You may have noticed increased forgetfulness, anxiety, and agitation in an elderly loved one – but when you try to talk to them about your concerns, they become defensive and deny anything is wrong. They may seem like they genuinely don’t know they are showing symptoms of dementia.
This condition is called “anosognosia,” and it is very normal. Poet’s Walk knows how difficult it can be to deal with both dementia itself and a senior’s inability to accept it – we offer extensive experience in both and we’re here to help.
Do People with Dementia Know They Have Dementia?
It’s a perfectly valid question: Do Alzheimer’s patients know they have it? They may not. Anosognosia, or the lack of self-awareness of a condition or disability, is physiological. It is a neurological problem resulting from damage to certain parts of the brain. Your loved one might also be unable to see the symptoms of dementia because:
- They haven’t noticed the effects on their everyday life. If they have been receiving help from family members or a caregiver, they might not realize that daily activities may be a struggle for them if they did them on their own.
- They don’t remember the diagnosis. Dementia can have effects on memory, so it is very possible that they don’t remember seeing the doctor, or having a conversation about dementia.
- They figure that forgetfulness and confusion were just part of growing older. We all expect to become a bit forgetful as we age. They might not realize that what they are experiencing is part of dementia.
How Do You Tell Someone They Have Dementia?
It’s a difficult conversation to have, and sometimes even worse if the dementia patient is genuinely unaware of their condition. Here are some helpful approaches to explaining your loved one’s dementia to them.
- Accept that this is often part of the journey. No one wants to suffer from dementia, and for some, there is a stigma. The nature of dementia can also make it hard for seniors to realize they have it, so understand that dementia denial is perfectly normal.
- Explain dementia – and anosognosia- in gentle terms. Some find it much easier to accept they suffer from dementia if they know that dementia has a physical cause. No one wants to feel mentally “defective”, but most people realize that biologically and physiologically, certain things happen when we get older. They will also take cues from your demeanor. If you are accepting and understanding, they will feel more comfortable that you are not judging them.
- Don’t push them. We all know the saying, “ignorance is bliss”. Remember for many, the fact that they’re aging is hard enough to handle; accepting that they have dementia may be even harder. Give your loved one time to process. Your priority is to keep them safe, happy, and enjoy your moments together. Even if they just admit that they may be more forgetful now than they were before, it is a big step.
Holistic Memory Care from Qualified Providers
It’s important to continue giving your loved one emotional support throughout this process. Give it time, especially if they refuse to admit that they suffer from dementia. Remind them that it is perfectly normal to be worried, but that you will be there for them. Many dementia patients have benefited from the tailored treatment and holistic recovery activities of Poet’s Walk memory care for seniors. After our many years of experience in senior care, we approach those with dementia with empathy.
Contact Poet’s Walk to inquire about our memory care program services, or to find out more about how to approach dementia in a loved one. We are here to help both of you continue living fulfilling lives.