What is Anosognosia in Alzheimer’s Patients?

Alzheimer’s comes with a variety of distressing symptoms. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, then it can be difficult to understand all these symptoms at first as you get used to their new condition. We want to help you understand what your loved one is going through and how you can help both them and yourself manage the symptoms. In this article, we’re going to look at a particularly confusing symptom of Alzheimer’s; anosognosia.

What is anosognosia?

Anosognosia refers to a patient’s lack of awareness that they have an illness or condition. It is not specific to Alzheimer’s patients but can also be seen across a variety of neurological and mental health conditions, including after brain injury. Anosognosia is common across various types of dementia as well as schizophrenia patients.

Alzheimer’s patients exhibiting anosognosia will not be aware that they have the disease and its related symptoms. This often comes across in the form of denial, which can make it difficult to encourage them to see a doctor and seek out a diagnosis in the early stages of the illness. Anosognosia may also cause other behavioral and personality changes such as paranoia and hostility to those trying to help.

Like many symptoms of Alzheimer’s anosognosia may come and go or worsen over time. On good days, a patient may be fully aware of their condition and the treatments they need to manage it. Then, like with other forms of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s, they may suddenly forget and be unaware of their disease.

What causes anosognosia?

Since Alzheimer’s is associated with degeneration of brain tissue, it is likely that anosognosia is caused by deterioration of parts of the brain associated with understanding and self-perception. Research suggests that damage to the frontal lobe is the most likely explanation of this. This is why patients also display this symptom after a stroke or traumatic head injuries.

Managing anosognosia

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging, especially if they’re displaying anosognosia. It can make it more difficult to encourage your loved one to seek treatment and maintain their medication regimen. It is important at all times to be patient with your loved one and not to come across as hostile or judgmental.

Try to listen to your loved one and understand their perspective. Try not to disagree with them but, instead, veer them toward the facts without being too accusatory about them.

If you are struggling to manage your loved one’s anosognosia, then talk to a doctor or care professional for additional advice and support. It may come to a point where memory care or assisted living are necessary to look after the health of your loved one. If you want to find out more about assisted living in Clemmons or Lewisville, then contact us at Brookstone of Clemmons.

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