Compassionate Caregiver: Caring for a Senior Who Does Not Know He Has Dementia

Caregivers in Henrietta, NY

Caregivers-in-Henrietta-NYFinding out that your elderly loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be one of the most upsetting and nerve-racking moments you can encounter during your caregiver journey with them. As soon as you find out about this condition your mind goes to work trying to figure out what you can do to change your care efforts to ensure that you continue to meet your parent’s needs as they progress through the disease. One of the first things that you are likely to think of is how you are going to support and encourage your senior throughout their experience with the disease, and how you will help them to deal with their own emotional responses to the disease.

What happens, however, if your senior does not know that he has dementia? Even if they hear the diagnosis straight from a medical professional, many seniors with dementia will not know that they have the disease. In fact, studies have shown that as many as 42 percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia have diminished or even no awareness of the fact that they have the disease. This condition is referred to as anosognosia, and it tends to increase and become more prevalent as the severity of the disease increases.

Anosognosia is not a matter of denial or being difficult about the condition. It is truly a lack of awareness or understanding of the disease and the diagnosis. This means that your senior is not just trying to pretend that he does not have the disease or to say that the doctor is wrong, but he actually does not understand that he has the disease or know that it is impacting him. This can make creating your care approach for him more challenging as you cope with his increased needs without him understanding what is causing these increased needs.
Use these tips to help you manage your caregiver efforts with a senior who does not know that he has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia:

• Stop trying to reason with him. Attempting to reason with anyone with dementia can be frustrating and fruitless, but this is especially true for a senior with anosognosia. Attempting to reason with your senior or “convince” him that there is something wrong with him will likely lead to frustration, anger, upset, and even combative behavior.

• Be honest. Simply because you should not spend time trying to reason with your senior does not mean that you should not be honest with him. Make sure that you tell your parent about his diagnosis and remind him when necessary.

• Offer support. Part of the difficulty of a senior not knowing or understanding that he has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is the emotional upset that comes each time you must tell him about the condition. Be there to offer emotional support and encouragement so that he can experience less fear and be more willing to cooperate with your care efforts.



If you or an aging loved one are considering help for family caregivers in Henrietta, NY, contact the caring staff at Caring Hearts of Rochester today! Serving Rochester, Pittsford, Greece, Webster, Canandaigua, Fairport, Perinton, Penfield, Brighton, Henrietta and surrounding communities. Call 585-245-0134.