“Why would you think I have dementia? There is not a single thing wrong with me!”
If a loved one with Alzheimer’s communicates beliefs like this, you may be thinking that he or she is merely in denial and not willing to recognize such a difficult diagnosis. Yet there could be a different reason: anosognosia, or a person’s genuine unawareness that he or she is affected by dementia.
Identifying the best way to reply to a senior who is unfamiliar with the personal difficulties being experienced with cognitive functioning is a challenge. Our Brentwood and surrounding area home care team has provided the following tips to help family caregivers more effectively care for a loved one with anosognosia:
- Recognize that the older person with dementia, while unaware of this one specific area, isn’t necessarily experiencing complete unawareness of his/her state of being. The older person might not be aware of the memory impairment due to dementia, but still maintain complete understanding of his/her physical restrictions related to osteoarthritis, for instance.
- Be ready for fluctuations in the senior’s level of anosognosia. While the senior may seem to be totally unaware of a specific challenge at the moment, the level of awareness can change over time.
- Provide full support to the individual by inviting conversations about his/her emotions, feelings, and thoughts without judgment. It is crucial for the senior to feel comfortable in expressing any concerns openly and honestly without feeling the need to cover them up.
Anosognosia, and other effects of Alzheimer’s disease, such as sundowning, wandering, difficult behaviors, and aggression, can be incredibly challenging, both for the older adult living with these problems and for his or her loved ones. Family caregivers need a strong network of support and to learn as much as possible about the disease, along with techniques for most effectively managing it. It is also vitally important to be sure to set aside sufficient time for self-care.
Contact the aging care professionals at Stay Home Care for highly personalized dementia care, including help with anosognosia, ensuring the older adult you love enjoys the best possible quality of life at all times.
We work with families to provide compassionate, highly skilled respite care services, allowing family caregivers the chance to step away for a period of time to unwind. Whether the older adult could benefit from several hours of care each week or full-time, 24/7 specialized dementia care, we’re always on hand to help. Call us at 615-964-7726 to learn more, to discover if our services are available in your area, and to arrange a complimentary in-home evaluation.