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Is a Senior Refuting a Dementia Diagnosis? It Might Be Anosognosia.

Senior man sitting on sofa

A senior may be unaware of his or her dementia diagnosis.

“How could you possibly say that I have a dementia diagnosis? There’s nothing at all wrong with me!”

If a senior in your care with a dementia diagnosis is unaccepting of the reality of the disease, you may be prone to think that he or she is simply in denial. However, there is sometimes a legitimate reason for this denial: anosognosia, or a person’s unawareness that he or she is impaired by dementia.

Finding the best way to respond to a senior with anosognosia is a challenge. Hillendale has compiled the following tips to help you more effectively care for someone who is unaware of a dementia diagnosis:

  • Understand that the senior with dementia, although lacking in awareness of this one particular health issue, isn’t necessarily experiencing complete unawareness of his or her entire state of being. The older person may not be aware of the cognitive impairment caused by dementia, but still fully understanding his or her physical limitations related to COPD, for example.
  • Be ready for changes in the senior’s level of anosognosia. While the older person may seem to be completely unaware of a specific challenge at the moment, the degree of awareness can shift over time.
  • Offer full support to the senior by allowing him or her to talk about emotions, feelings, and thoughts at all times without judgment. It is crucial for the senior to feel at ease in expressing any concerns openly and honestly without feeling the need to cover them up.

Anosognosia, and other effects of Alzheimer’s disease, such as wandering, sundowning, difficult behaviors, and aggression, can be extremely challenging, both for the senior living with these problems and for you as a caregiver. Be sure to talk with your supervisor if you begin to feel overwhelmed, so that we can help ensure you have all the support you need.

It’s important to learn as much as possible about anosognosia, and the other potential effects experienced by someone with a dementia diagnosis. Learn additional helpful tips to provide the best level of care for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia at our Hillendale home care website, or explore how you can become a member of Hillendale’s home care team by contacting our CNA and HHA school today!