Background: The purpose of the present study was to gain insight into Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients’ perception of the world through the study of a few aspects of awareness. The aspects in focus of the study were disease awareness, metacognition, managing of everyday life, and as a complement, the agreement (calibration) between patients and their spouses on the studied aspects was considered.
Method: A mixed-method evaluation design was used involving 15 AD patients, their spouses, and 15 elderly healthy control subjects. The study comprised both a semistructured interview (AD patients and spouse) and a neuropsychological assessment (AD patients and control subjects).
Results: The patients were aware of their disease and able to report on their illness. Despite this awareness, they were unable to realize and manage the practical and cognitive implications of their impairment. The results also indicate that patients and spouses were not well calibrated regarding thoughts about the disease and problems in handling the cognitive deterioration.
Conclusions: The findings of our study have relevance to patients’ well being and how they manage everyday life. An open dialogue on these issues between spouses and in the care for AD patients would hopefully enhance quality of life for all parties involved.