January 9, 2018

Anosognosia“Why would you think I have Alzheimer’s? There isn’t anything wrong with me!”

If perhaps you’ve heard a senior loved one with dementia frustratingly communicate this or perhaps a very similar sentiment, you might have assumed that individual was merely in denial and unwilling to accept a tough diagnosis. The truth is, however, that oftentimes individuals with dementia and other conditions are experiencing anosognosia – an unawareness of their impairment.

It can be difficult to figure out the best way to respond to a senior who is unacquainted with his or her own cognitive functioning difficulties. The tips below might help family caregivers better relate to their senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease and anosognosia:

  • Understand that the senior, although short of awareness in one area, isn’t necessarily dealing with total unawareness of his or her state of being. The senior might be unaware of the memory impairment caused by dementia, but possess full understanding of the physical limitations related to rheumatoid arthritis, for example.
  • Anticipate fluctuations in the senior’s level of anosognosia. While he or she may appear to be totally unaware of a certain struggle at the moment, the amount of awareness may shift after a while.
  • Fully support the individual to talk about his or her emotions, thoughts and feelings at all times without judgment. It is crucial for the senior to feel comfortable sharing any worries openly and honestly without feeling the need to conceal or cover them up.

Anosognosia, and other characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease, like sundowning, difficult behaviors, wandering, and aggression, can be extremely difficult, both for the elderly person fighting these problems and his or her loved ones. It is important for members of the family to search for a strong network of support and to educate themselves as much as possible in regards to the disease and recommendations for managing it. It is also important for family members to allow some time for self-care.

Contact dementia care St Louis provider Continuum for more tips on effectively managing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, such as anosognosia, to allow your senior loved one to enjoy the best possible quality of life at all times. We partner with families to deliver safe, knowledgeable respite care services, which allows family care providers the chance to step away for a length of time to relax and rejuvenate. Whether the need is for a few hours each week or full-time, around-the-clock caregiving, we’re on hand to assist. Call us at (314) 863-9912 to find out more or to arrange for a free in-home consultation.