“How on earth could you think that I have dementia? There’s not a thing wrong with me!”
If an older loved one with dementia expresses feelings like this, you may have thought to yourself that he or she was simply in denial and not willing to accept such a difficult diagnosis. But then again, there could be a different reason: anosognosia, or a person’s actual unawareness that the individual is affected by dementia.
Identifying the right way to react to a senior who is unfamiliar with the personal difficulties being experienced with cognitive functioning isn’t easy. Our team of experts in home care services in Walnut Creek and surrounding areas has put together several recommendations to help family caregivers more effectively care for someone with anosognosia:
- Realize that the older person with dementia, while lacking in awareness of this one particular area, is not necessarily experiencing complete unawareness of his/her state of being. The older adult might not be aware of the memory impairment resulting from the dementia, but still maintain complete understanding of his or her physical restrictions related to arthritis, for example.
- Be prepared for fluctuations in the senior’s degree of anosognosia. While the older person may seem to be completely unaware of a specific struggle at the moment, the degree of awareness can shift over time.
- Offer complete support to the individual by enabling discussions about his or her emotions, feelings, and thoughts at all times without judgment. It is vital for the senior to feel comfortable in sharing any concerns openly and honestly without feeling it necessary to cover them up.
Anosognosia, and other effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, like sundowning, wandering, difficult behaviors, and aggression, can be extremely overwhelming, both for the senior living with these problems and for his or her family members. Family caregivers require 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 be sure to designate adequate time for self-care.
Contact the aging care professionals at Hillendale Home Care for further tips for Alzheimer’s care, including anosognosia, ensuring the older adult you love enjoys the best possible quality of life at all times.
We work with families to supply compassionate, highly skilled respite care services, allowing family caregivers the opportunity to step away for a period of time to unwind. Whether the senior 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 925-933-8181 to learn more, to find out if our services are available in your area, and to arrange for a complimentary in-home evaluation.