“How on earth could you think that I have dementia? There is not a thing wrong with me!”
If an aging loved one with dementia has communicated sentiments such as this, you might have thought to yourself that the senior was actually in denial and reluctant to recognize such a challenging diagnosis. However, there could be a different reason: anosognosia, or the genuine unawareness that he/she is impaired by dementia. Managing anosognosia requires some delicate handling.
Identifying the best way to respond to a senior who is unfamiliar with the personal difficulties of cognitive functioning is a challenge, especially when either party lacks experience with the condition. Our experts in dementia care in Philadelphia and surrounding areas has put together several recommendations to help family caregivers better care for someone with anosognosia:
- Understand that the older adult with dementia, while lacking in awareness of this condition, is not necessarily unaware of his/her complete state of being. The older adult may not be aware of the memory impairment caused by dementia, but still maintains complete understanding of his or her physical limitations related to arthritis, for example.
- Prepare for fluctuations in the individual’s level of anosognosia. While he/she may seem to be completely unaware of a particular challenge at the moment, the degree of awareness can shift over time.
- Offer complete support to the senior by encouraging discussions about his/her emotions, feelings, and thoughts without judgment. It is important for the senior to be comfortable in articulating any concerns openly and honestly without feeling the need to cover them up.
Anosognosia, and other effects of Alzheimer’s, including sundowning, wandering, aggression, and other concerning behaviors can be extremely overwhelming, both for the senior living with these problems and for his or her loved ones. Family caregivers should establish a reliable network of support and educate themselves about the disease, along with strategies for most effectively managing it. It is equally important to set aside adequate time for self-care.
Contact the experts in dementia care in the Philadelphia area at Effraim Home Care for additional tips and for help with dementia care challenges, including anosognosia, to ensure the older person you love enjoys the best possible quality of life and remains safe at home. 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.
Whether the older person could benefit from several hours of care each week or full-time, 24/7 specialized dementia care, we’re always available to help. Call us at (215) 826-7422 to learn more about our dementia care in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, and to schedule a free in-home evaluation.