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Carlton Senior Living | October 2, 2015 | By Jonita Dixon

Dealing With People Who Don’t Know They Have Dementia

seniors-looking-at-lake-dealing-with-dementiaAnosognosia refers to a lack of awareness of an impairment. Most people who have an ailment do not know they are ill. In fact, for people struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, anosognosia affects upwards of 81 percent of people who live with Alzheimer’s disease.

Is it denial or anosognosia? – Dealing with Dementia

If the situation was not difficult enough as is, it is possible for anosognosia to be selective or complete. Some people are entirely unaware of the fact that they have Alzheimer’s disease, reacting with defensiveness or anger if confronted about it. This makes diagnosing anosognosia even more of a challenge. Anosognosia can be difficult to distinguish from denial. If you are worried that your loved one might have dementia with anosognosia, look for the following signs:

  • Making up answers that they believe to be true. Sometimes the details refer to something they read or heard elsewhere, something that happened in the past, or are entirely imaginary.
  • Becoming angry when confronted with poor decision-making, lack of self-care, or forgetfulness.
  • Being less inhibited or more spontaneous in conversation without concern for their own behavior.
  • Not keeping up with personal hygiene or regular daily tasks.

What can you do? – Dealing with Dementia

If someone does not know they have dementia, the mitigation of the effects is one of the most effective strategies that you can use. People who are not sick do not want to take medication – people who have anosognosia do not believe themselves to be sick, ergo they do not believe that they need to change anything. You can use the following tips though:

  • Stay focused and calm with the other person when you voice your concerns. Articulate your thoughts in a positive light and subtle manner.
  • Work together with the person with necessary tasks such as money management or cleaning.
  • Downsize any unnecessary responsibilities. Sometimes memory care might be the best option for your loved one.
  • Provide a structured schedule of down time, personal care, and tasks. Be sure that you or another caregiver is available to help where needed.
  • Be positive in your communication, be empathetic, encouraging, and gentle about necessary tasks