Lear Blog

Anosognosia: When Our Loved One is Unaware of Their Impairment

  • August 28, 2017
  • Advice Aging Geriatric Care Personal Assistance Services

When our loved one begins to be unaware of how they are feeling or functioning there is a word for this condition. It is Anosognosia. This condition occurs when our loved one is unaware of their own memory loss, general skills such as math and/or language, their emotions, and body movement. It has been estimated that around 60% of people with cognitive impairment and 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease have some form of Anosognosia.

Often times when family members call us for assistance they find themselves in the midst of a dilemma with their family member who they have noticed is not responding to everyday personal needs, tasks, and relationships as they once did. They might be forgetting to bathe, put gas in the car, pay bills on time, keep appointments or take medication on time or at all.

The stressful nature of taking care of or being responsible for a loved one with cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can at times cause us to misinterpret and misunderstand this behavior. We perceive our loved one as being in denial and/or lying. ¬†While it may seem like denial a person who has Anosognosia is experiencing physical changes in brain cells that interfere with incoming information to the extent that the information is not coming in or doesn’t exist. For example, you may notice that the person has not bathed or showered due to body odor and yet your loved one is completely unaware of their own condition.

Often times when the suggestion is made to take a bath or shower the person confabulates and may even suggest that they have bathed. Frustrated, we may interpret this as a lie. The difference is the person with Anosognosia believes everything they are saying is true. They are not making excuses they are pulling from fragmented memories and events in other words they confabulate.

A good philosophy in handling a loved one with this condition is to focus on the important aspects of their daily schedule and decrease unnecessary tasks and chores. A person in this condition always responds best to a positive and gentle approach. That is when an agency like Lear Senior Care Services can partner with the family to provide regular assistance with personal care, meal preparation, housekeeping, and transportation. Our expert caregivers can make sure that your loved one gets the companionship and emotional support they need so family caregivers can get the respite they need.

Check www.AlzOnline.net for The Checklist for Family Matters for additional tips and information.

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