“I do NOT have Alzheimer’s disease! There isn’t anything wrong with me!”
If you’ve listened to a loved one with dementia frustratingly communicate this or perhaps a very similar sentiment, you have probably believed that individual was merely in denial and reluctant to come to grips with a difficult diagnosis. The stark reality is, however, that oftentimes those with Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions are experiencing anosognosia – an unawareness of their impairment.
It can be tough to figure out the best way to respond to a senior who seems to be unacquainted with his or her own cognitive functioning challenges. The following suggestions might actually help family caregivers better relate to their family member with Alzheimer’s disease and anosognosia:
- Keep in mind that the senior, although short of awareness within one area, isn’t necessarily experiencing overall unawareness of his or her state of being. The senior might be unaware of the memory impairment brought on by dementia, but have full understanding of the physical constraints related to rheumatoid arthritis, for example.
- Anticipate changes in the individual’s level of anosognosia. While he or she may appear to be totally unaware of a particular challenge at the moment, the level of awareness could shift over time.
- Completely support the elderly person to express his or her emotions, thoughts and feelings at all times free of judgment. It’s very important for the individual to feel safe expressing any worries openly and truthfully without feeling the desire to hide or cover them up.
Anosognosia, and other characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease, such as sundowning, difficult behaviors, wandering, and aggression, can be extremely problematic, both for the individual struggling with these problems and his or her loved ones. It is very important for members of the family to search out a strong community of support and to educate themselves as much as possible in regards to the disease and recommendations for coping. It is also important for family members to set aside enough time for self-care .
Contact Home Sweet Home In-Home Care for additional guidance on effectively managing the effects of dementia, such as anosognosia, to let your senior loved one enjoy the highest possible quality of life all of the time. As the premier St. Joseph home care agency, we partner with individuals and their families to deliver safe, experienced respite care services, which allows family caregivers the chance to step away for some time to rest and renew. Whether the need is for a few hours each week or full-time, around-the-clock care and attention, we’re available to assist. Call us at (269) 849-9252 to learn more or to arrange for a free in-home consultation.