Anosognosia – Why Is My Parent Denying a Dementia Diagnosis?

Dementia can have many side effects,including anosognosia.

“How on earth could you think that I have dementia? There is not a single thing wrong with me!”

If a senior loved one with a dementia diagnosis communicates feelings like this, you may think to yourself that the senior is essentially in denial and reluctant to admit to such a concerning diagnosis. Yet there could be a different reason: anosognosia, or someone’s actual unawareness that he or she is affected by dementia.

Determining the best way to respond to a senior who is unfamiliar with the personal difficulties being experienced with cognitive functioning is a challenge. Our Scottsdale senior care team has put together several recommendations to help family caregivers better care for someone with anosognosia:

  • Recognize that the older adult with dementia, while unaware of this one certain area, isn’t necessarily experiencing complete unawareness of his/her state of being. The older person might not be aware of the memory impairment due to dementia, but may still maintain full understanding of his or her physical limitations related to arthritis, for example.
  • Plan for variations in the senior’s level of anosognosia. While the senior may seem to be completely unaware of a specific struggle at the moment, the extent of awareness can change over time.
  • Supply complete support to the senior by allowing discussions about his/her emotions, feelings, and thoughts without judgment. It is vital for the older adult to feel comfortable in sharing any concerns openly and honestly without feeling the need to cover them up.

Anosognosia, and other effects of dementia, such as sundowning, wandering, difficult behaviors, and aggression, can be extremely difficult, both for the older person living with these problems and for his or her loved ones. Family caregivers require a reliable network of support and to learn as much as possible about the disease, along with strategies for most effectively managing it. It is also important to be sure to allow sufficient time for self-care.

Contact Endeavor In-Home Care, professionals in at home care in Scottsdale and surrounding areas, for further assistance with Alzheimer’s care concerns, including anosognosia, ensuring the older person 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 relax. Whether the older person could benefit from a couple of hours of care each week or full-time, live-in specialized dementia care, we’re always available to help. Call us at 480-498-2324 to learn more, to find out if our services are available in your area, and to request a complimentary in-home assessment.