Anosognosia: Helping Seniors Who Are Unaware of Their Dementia

senior man looking confused
Our experts can help with anosognosia and other challenging dementia behaviors.

“How could you possibly say that I have dementia? There’s not a single thing wrong with me!”

If a loved one with dementia expresses comments such as this, you may be thinking to yourself that the senior is just in denial and unwilling to admit such a concerning diagnosis. But then again, there could be a different reason: anosognosia, or a person’s true unawareness that he/she has dementia.

Determining the most appropriate way to react to a senior who is not familiar with the personal difficulties being experienced with cognitive functioning can be difficult. Our Carmichael senior care team has provided several recommendations to help family caregivers better care for an older adult with anosognosia:

  • Understand that the older person with dementia, while unaware of this one particular area, is not necessarily experiencing complete unawareness of his or her state of being. The older person might not be aware of the memory impairment caused by dementia, but still maintain full understanding of his or her physical limitations related to degenerative arthritis, for instance.
  • Prepare for changes in the senior’s extent of anosognosia. While the person may seem to be totally unaware of a certain struggle at the moment, the extent of awareness can shift over time.
  • Provide full support to the senior by inviting conversations about his or her emotions, feelings, and thoughts without judgment. It is imperative for the older adult to feel comfortable in sharing any concerns openly and honestly without feeling it necessary to cover them up.

Anosognosia, and other effects of dementia, including sundowning, wandering, concerning behaviors, and aggression, can be incredibly overwhelming, both for the older person living with these problems and for his or her loved ones. Family caregivers need to seek out a strong network of support and to educate themselves as much as possible about the disease, along with techniques for most effectively managing it. It is also vitally important to set aside sufficient time for self-care.

Contact the Carmichael senior care professionals at Live Well at Home for additional tips for Alzheimer’s care, including anosognosia, ensuring the older person 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 opportunity to step away for a period of time to rest and recharge. Whether the older adult could benefit from a couple of hours of care each week or full-time, live-in specialized dementia care, we are always available to help.

Call us at 800-478-1209 to learn more, to determine if our services are available in your area, and to arrange for a complimentary in-home consultation. For more information about the different areas we serve in California, please visit our Service Area page.

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