Art of Medicine
May 2019

Fading Mind of a Patient With Alzheimer’s

Laci Hadorn
AMA J Ethics. 2019;21(5):E455-456. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2019.455.


Alzheimer’s can be a devastating disease to observe in others. From a patient’s perspective, it can be frightening, too, as memories fade away. This puzzle graphic considers the physical and emotional experiences of brain deterioration.


Figure. The Fading Mind of a Patient With Alzheimer’s

Figure 1 artm2-1905


Pencil drawing.


Working closely with many nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease allowed me to see what they and their families endure. Patients with Alzheimer’s often do not have insight into how their minds disassemble; this puzzle graphic explores this phenomenon explicitly and starkly, using vividly contrasting black, white, and gray shading. It is important to encourage patients with Alzheimer’s to connect with others. Meeting persons with Alzheimer’s where they are in the present moment and assuring them that they need not face their disease progression alone is critical.


AMA J Ethics. 2019;21(5):E455-456.



Conflict of Interest Disclosure

The author(s) had no conflicts of interest to disclose. 

The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.