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HomeHealthDo Dementia Patients Know They Have Dementia

Do Dementia Patients Know They Have Dementia

Is Anosognosia The Same As Denial

How does a person with dementia see the world?

No, when someone is in denial, theyre aware of a fact, but refuse to accept it.

Someone who has anosognosia in dementia isnt in denial its something different.

With anosognosia, the dementia has caused damage in their brain that makes it impossible for that person to be aware of whats happening to them.

Talking With A Doctor

After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:

  • talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
  • contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team

Supporting Your Loved One As They Learn Of Their Diagnosis

Without question, there are persons with Alzheimers or other forms of dementia who may not be impacted when receiving the news of their diagnosis because they are at a stage of the disease that leaves them too forgetful to retain it, or unable to understand it. But in those situations where the diagnosis is being presented to someone capable of understanding, how might we best present the information, and give support to our loved one?

  • Include your loved ones physician to explain the medical diagnosis and options available for medical management.
  • Tailor your explanation to your loved ones level of understanding.
  • Stay positive. Support your loved one by reminding them that you are going to do everything you can to support them through this illness.
  • Choose appropriate terminology. An alternative to the labels of Alzheimers disease or dementia might be memory problems.
  • Become an informed caregiver. Information is abundant through local and national organizations, online, and books.

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Signs Of Dying In The Elderly With Dementia

Dementia is a general term for a chronic or persistent decline in mental processes including memory loss, impaired reasoning, and personality changes. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases of dementia. It is also the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and over 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimers disease.

Alzheimers disease and most progressive dementias do not have a cure. While the disease inevitably worsens over time, that timeline can vary greatly from one patient to the next.

Caring for a loved one can be challenging and stressful, as the individuals personality changes and cognitive function declines. They may even stop recognizing their nearest and dearest friends and relatives. As dementia progresses, the individual will require more and more care. As a family caregiver, its important to be able to recognize the signs of dying in elderly with dementia. Hospice can help by offering care wherever the individual resides, providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to the patient and support their family.

How To Manage Repeated Questions And Confusion

Poems on dementia

Asking questions over and over again, as well as not being able to understand why things are happening are symptoms and behaviors that come with dementia, according to the American Psychological Association.

  • Communicate with simple, direct language.
  • Use photos and other tangible items as props to explain situations.
  • Remain calm and supportive.
  • Use tools such as alarms, calendars, and to-do lists to help them remember tasks.


  • Rely on lengthy explanations and reasoning, as this may further overwhelm your family member.

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Symptoms Specific To Dementia With Lewy Bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies has many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and people with the condition typically also experience:

  • periods of being alert or drowsy, or fluctuating levels of confusion
  • visual hallucinations
  • becoming slower in their physical movements
  • repeated falls and fainting

Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.

Memory Loss: Everything Became Fuzzier

Dementia symptoms result from damage to the brain caused by disease or injury. As brain cells die, it becomes difficult or impossible to store new memories or access old ones. Sometimes dementia comes on suddenly, after a stroke or head injury. Often it comes on more slowly as the result of conditions like Alzheimerâs disease or Parkinsonâs disease. Most causes of dementia cannot be reversed.

Mary Ann Becklenberg is in the early stages of Alzheimerâs disease, but her dementia symptoms have already had an enormous impact on her life. In 2006, she had to leave her position as a clinical social worker because she could no longer meet the responsibilities. âThe world became much less defined than it had been,â says Becklenberg. âEverything became fuzzier.â

The diagnosis didnât come until later. John Becklenberg says that he first knew that his wife had Alzheimerâs disease after she returned from a monthlong trip to California. âI was there with her for a week of her stay,â he says. âBut when she got back, she didnât remember that Iâd been there at all.â

âThat was so hard,â says Mary Ann Becklenberg, who now serves as an Alzheimerâs Association early stage adviser. âJohn listed all these things we did and places we went, and I didnât remember any of them. That was when we knew.â

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Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment

Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:

  • Getting lost easily
  • Noticeably poor performance at work
  • Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
  • Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
  • Losing or misplacing important objects
  • Difficulty concentrating

Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.

Minutes Later Can Feel Like A Whole New Day

Why does a Person Not Know They Have Dementia? || The “Why” Series

Sometimes, loved ones with dementia can become anxious, agitated, and combative while you’re helping them with their activities of daily living. For example, perhaps you’re trying to encourage your mother to brush her teeth and she’s pushing you away and yelling at you. It’s just not going to happen right now.

Instead of increasing your demands about brushing her teeth, try giving her a few minutes to calm down. Ensure her safety and go to a different room for 20 minutes. You might find out that when you return and turn on her favorite music, the task that she was so adamantly opposed to earlier is now much easier and not a big deal. While this won’t always work, it often does, and it’s definitely worth a try.

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What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.

  • Alzheimers Association. Stages of Alzheimers. Accessed May 27, 2021.
  • National Institute on Aging. Alzheimers Disease Fact Sheet. Content reviewed May 2019. Accessed May 27, 2021.
  • What Doctors Need To Do To Diagnose Dementia

    Now that we reviewed the five key features of dementia, lets talk about how I or another doctor might go about checking for these.

    Basically, for each feature, the doctor needs to evaluate, and document what she finds.

    1. Difficulty with mental functions. To evaluate this, its best to combine an office-based cognitive test with documentation of real-world problems, as reported by the patient and by knowledgeable observers

    For cognitive testing, I generally use the Mini-Cog, or the MOCA. The MOCA provides more information but it takes more time, and many seniors are either unwilling or unable to go through the whole test.

    Completing office-based tests is important because its a standardized way to document cognitive abilities. But the results dont tell the doctor much about whats going on in the persons actual life.

    So I always ask patients to tell me if theyve noticed any trouble with memory or thinking. I also try to get information from family members about any of the eight behaviors that are common in Alzheimers. Lastly, I make note of whether there seem to be any problems managing activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living .

    Driving and managing finances require a lot of mental coordination, so as dementia develops, these are often the life tasks that people struggle with first.

    Checking for many of these causes of cognitive impairment requires laboratory testing, and sometimes additional evaluation.

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    What Is Dementia And What Causes It

    Dementia is a syndrome that causes a person to develop difficulty and problems with their memory or their ability to think. Unlike the normal changes that happen in a persons memory and thinking over time, dementia affects someones ability to function in their daily life activities and their normal routine .There are different causes of dementia. These causes are typically underlying neurological conditions . One common cause of dementia is Alzheimers disease. Other causes include diseases that impact brain blood vessels. For example, strokes may cause what is commonly termed Vascular Dementia. Some causes include Lewy Body Disease and Parkinsons disease.

    What Are The Main Types Of Dementia

    Do People with Dementia Know They Have It

    Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around 2 out of every 3 of cases in older people. Vascular dementia is another common form, while dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia are less common.

    It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimers is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called mixed dementia.

    The symptoms of dementia vary depending on the disease, or diseases, causing it. You can read more about the symptoms associated with different types of dementia on the Alzheimers Society website .

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    Be Aware Of Their Eating And Drinking

    The person may have lost their appetite or have difficulties swallowing safely. In the last days, the person may stop eating or drinking. This can be very distressing to watch, but it is normal for people approaching the end of life.

    You should offer the person food and drink for as long as it is safe and they show an interest. Its important to keep the persons mouth comfortable provide sips of fluids and keep lips moist and clean.

    Views Of People With Dementia

    Pratt and Wilkinson examined the responses of people with dementia who had been given their diagnosis. The subjects were able to identify both the advantages and disadvantages to being given their diagnosis – some of the advantages are shown in Box 2. One of the positive outcomes seemed to be that patients finally had a context within which to place worrying things that were happening to them.

    The disadvantages were likely to be diagnosis-related, rather than the result of disclosure. For example, subjects cited the limitations imposed on their activities of daily living and the negative effect on their confidence. All those questioned felt that people should be told their diagnosis, and that it should be given as early as possible. A final argument supporting disclosure of a diagnosis is the accuracy with which the diagnosis can now be made. Meyers reports that a greater than 90% accuracy of modern diagnostic criteria negates concern about unduly alarming people who have been misdiagnosed.

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    How To Recognize Signs Of Pain In Those With Dementia

    I have been working in hospice care for more than 20 years, and when I hear the word pain, I cant help but think no one should have to hurt at the end of life. This is especially true when I think of people living with dementia. Dementia is disease type that causes impairments in language, memory, personality, behavior and judgment. It is a chronic disease that causes continuous decline in the ability to see, hear, move, taste, remember, reason and understand. Because of their disease, most dementia patients can no longer report pain because they do not recognize it. Who will advocate for their comfort?

    Pain in individuals with dementia is often under assessed and under treated. Studies indicate that although dementia patients experience severe or chronic pain, they regularly receive fewer pain medications than healthy senior adults. The results of one study also showed Alzheimers disease, which is a category of dementia, did not alter the sensation of pain in individuals with Alzheimers it only altered their ability to report pain.

    Signs or behaviorsnonverbal and verbalindicating pain can include:

    • Anxiety or restlessness
    • Constant pacing, moving or unwillingness to sit down
    • Moaning, crying, sighing and even heavy breathing
    • Frowning, grimacing or a furrowed brow
    • Sleeping all day or not being able to sleep
    • Very rigid, striking out or resistive

    I hope this information will help caregivers continue to provide best care possible.

    The Case Against Disclosure

    Should you remind someone they have dementia?

    The main arguments against disclosure centre on concern, mostly by relatives, that it would lead to depression, anxiety and possibly suicide .

    Maguire et al suggest that this may be compounded by relatives reluctance to deal with the patients knowledge and grief. A clients daughter begged this papers author to stop the consultant disclosing a diagnosis of dementia to her mother, as the daughter would be the one dealing with the consequences and she felt she would not be able to cope. But Maguire et al found that people who were opposed to telling a family member wanted to be told if they had the condition. The reason they gave is that they had a right to know their diagnosis, and apparently saw no paradox in their views. Similarly, Holroyd et al found that more people would want to know the diagnosis if it were their own than felt a relative should be informed. Other arguments against disclosure included that it is of no benefit because there is no cure and that the person would forget anyway .

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    Finding Other Ways To Reconnect

    It can be very difficult when someone with dementia stops recognising you. But there are things you can do to keep your connection with the person, and your relationship with them, warm and open.

    If you can, try entering into their world, and asking the person diagnosed with dementia about the memories they mention. Encouraging them to talk about what feels familiar will help them to feel at ease. Try not to remind the person with dementia of more recent realities that theyre having trouble grasping, such as the death of their parents, as this can cause distress and confusion. Instead talk about happy memories and events that are important to them. Taking part in activities together can be a good way to reconnect with a person with dementia. Anything you both enjoy can help you feel closer, such as:

    • Playing some familiar music
    • Going for a walk and talking about the things you see on the way
    • Flower arranging
    • Doing a jigsaw puzzle, if possible

    Choose One Small Thing To Do For Yourself

    The risk of caregiver burnout is real. Caregivers don’t need to feel guilty or frustrated because they don’t have time or energy to exercise, smile, eat right, and get lots of sleep. Most caregivers are well aware these are things they should do but just don’t have the time. The last thing they need is another list of things they should be doing.

    Instead, what caregivers need to remember is that doing even one little thing for themselves is important and beneficial. You may not have time to do the big things, but finding little ways to refill your tank of caregiver energy is critically important.

    Practical ideas from dementia caregivers who have been there include a 30-minute visit from a friend, 20 minutes of quiet time where you read a religious passage or listen to your favorite music, 10 minutes to drink your favorite flavored coffee, five minutes of locking yourself in your room to physically stretch your body or call a family member who will understand, and 10 seconds of taking a deep, deep breath and let it out slowly.

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    Anosognosia In Dementia Isnt The Same As Denial

    Its important to understand that someone who has anosognosia in dementia isnt just being difficult or in denial this is something different.

    When someone is in denial, they are aware of a fact, but refuse to accept it.

    With anosognosia, the damage that dementia is causing in their brain makes it impossible for that person to be aware of whats happening to them.


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