“How could you possibly say that I have dementia? There’s not a single thing wrong with me!”
If an older loved one with dementia voices sentiments like this, you may be thinking to yourself that the senior is simply in denial and not willing to admit such a difficult diagnosis. Nevertheless, there might be another reason: anosognosia, or a senior’s genuine unawareness that the individual has dementia.
Figuring out the best way to reply to a senior who is not familiar with the personal difficulties being experienced with cognitive functioning isn’t easy. Our Santa Barbara senior care team has put together several guidelines to help family caregivers more effectively care for a loved one with anosognosia:
- Realize 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 may not be aware of the memory impairment resulting from the dementia, but may still maintain full understanding of his/her physical limitations related to arthritis, for example.
- Plan for variations in the senior’s level of anosognosia. While the individual may seem to be totally unaware of a particular challenge at the moment, the level of awareness can shift over time.
- Offer complete support to the senior by permitting conversations about his/her emotions, feelings, and thoughts at all times without judgment. It is crucial for the senior to feel comfortable in communicating any concerns openly and honestly without feeling the need to cover them up.
Anosognosia, and other effects of Alzheimer’s disease, like sundowning, wandering, concerning behaviors, and aggression, can be extremely overwhelming, both for the senior living with these problems and for his or her loved ones. Family caregivers need 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 very important to be sure to allow plenty of time for self-care.
Contact the experts in elderly care in Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas at Complete Care at Home for assistance with dementia care challenges, including anosognosia, ensuring the senior 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 get 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, 24/7 specialized dementia care, we’re always available to help. Call us at 805-727-3445 to learn more, to find out if our services are available in your area, and to arrange a free in-home assessment.