When Your Loved One Is Unaware of Their Dementia

Working with individuals who have dementia or Alzheimer’s can be challenging.  A puzzling and frustrating part of these conditions is the lack of self-awareness that most patients exhibit about their condition.  It is not about denial, however.   Up to 81 percent of those with Alzheimer’s do not know they are ill.  The medical term for this lack of self-awareness of illness is anosognosia.

Causes of Anosognosia

It has been difficult for the medical community to pin down exactly what causes anosognosia. Researchers believe the condition results from anatomical changes or damage in the brain.  Working with those who don’t recognize they are ill can be difficult and frustrating for caregivers, especially because an anosognosic person with dementia may insist they don’t need help despite their difficulties with routine tasks.  They may also refuse medical treatments, some of which may help them realize they have a mental impairment.

Signs of dementia with anosognosia include:

  • Becoming angry when confronted about forgetfulness, lack of personal care or problems with decision making
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and other daily tasks
  • Difficulty managing bills and money
  • Insistence on driving or operating machinery when it is unsafe to do so

One of the biggest mistakes a caretaker can make is trying to make a person suffering from dementia with anosognosia recognize their condition.  The best thing a caretaker can do is to mitigate the effects of the condition.  Here are some tips for effective communication:

  • Use positive, gentle communication, and be encouraging and empathic.
  • Devise a structured plan with specific times for bathing and personal care, shopping and other daily chores.
  • Avoid attempts at making the person understand his or her condition, and never say things to shame the person for their forgetfulness.
  • Hire an aide from a home care business for help with everyday tasks and care.

Assisting those with dementia can be a real challenge, but it can also be a rewarding experience for home caregivers and elderly care franchise owners alike.  By exercising empathy, patience and good will, caretakers often learn and grow in the process, and provide much needed care to the elder generations that once cared for us.

Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.4 million Americans and, by the year 2050, researchers predict that 1 in every 45 people will have this debilitating disease. At Always Best Care, we know that extra attention and tender, compassionate care must accompany every service we provide.

If you’re ready to make a difference in your community, download your own copy of our FREE senior care franchise eBook to learn why Always Best Care’s training, marketing, and support have grown our franchisee revenue so dramatically.


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