“Why would you think I have dementia? There isn’t a thing wrong with me!”
If a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease expresses beliefs like this, you may have thought to yourself that he or she was actually in denial and unwilling to admit to such a challenging diagnosis. Yet there could be another reason: anosognosia, or someone’s genuine unawareness that he or she is impaired by dementia.
Determining the right way to respond to a senior who is unfamiliar with the personal difficulties being experienced with cognitive functioning is a challenge. Our aging care team has compiled the following guidelines to help family caregivers more effectively care for a loved one with anosognosia:
- Recognize that the senior with Alzheimer’s, while unaware of this one specific area, is not necessarily experiencing complete unawareness of his/her state of being. The older person might not be aware of the memory impairment resulting from the dementia, but still maintain complete understanding of his or her physical limitations related to osteoarthritis, for instance.
- Plan for changes in the senior’s degree of anosognosia. While the person may seem to be totally unaware of a certain struggle at the moment, the degree of awareness can change over time.
- Offer complete support to the individual by permitting discussions about his/her emotions, feelings, and thoughts at all times without judgment. It is imperative for the older person to be comfortable in expressing any concerns openly and honestly without feeling the need to cover them up.
Anosognosia, and other effects of Alzheimer’s, including sundowning, wandering, challenging behaviors, and aggression, can be incredibly difficult, both for the older adult living with these problems and for his or her family members. Family caregivers require a reliable network of support and to learn as much as possible about the disease, along with techniques for most effectively managing it. It is also extremely important to be sure to set aside sufficient time for self-care.
As the top providers of home health care in Provo and nearby areas, the in-home care experts at Harmony Home Health & Hospice are always here to help with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, including anosognosia, to ensure the senior you love enjoys the best possible quality of life at all times.
We work with families to supply compassionate, highly skilled dementia care services, allowing family caregivers the chance to step away for a period of time to rest. Whether the senior could benefit from several hours of care each week or full-time, around-the-clock specialized dementia care, contact us online or at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE (1-877-463-3322) to learn more, to determine if our services are available in your area, and to schedule a complimentary in-home evaluation.