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Lack of Awareness

We all have reserves; energy reserves help us when we need a sudden burst of power and cognitive reserves help us to compensate when we forget a person’s name and need to bluff our way through an encounter. When caught in this situation most people are embarrassed and joke that we will wake up in the middle of the night and remember what we forgot. We call these senior moments, part-timers or some-of-the-timers and chuckle. We are aware that we forget. This is different with those that have dementia – majority of them are NOT aware that they forget.

So what are some things to watch for?

  • Not consistent with words or deeds – often accuse people of stealing what they gave away
  • Incorrect sequencing during tasks
  • Trouble finding their way in the house or a building
    Easily frustrated
  • Poor time awareness – confusing day or night
  • Repeats the same story / question over and over unaware they just told you
  • Tends to follow or shadow their primary caregiver because they are a lifeline to reality
  • Insisting they took a shower when in reality they have not for days
  • Insisting they took medication when it is still in the pill box

The clinical name for lack of awareness is anosognosia. According to http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org “Anosognosia, also called “lack of insight,” is a symptom of severe mental illness experienced by some that impairs a person’s ability to understand and perceive his or her illness. It is the single largest reason why people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder refuse medications or do not seek treatment. Without awareness of the illness, refusing treatment appears rational, no matter how clear the need for treatment might be to others.”

As this relates to people with dementia, The Lamoine staff are trained in communication techniques to deal with this difficult behavior as well as looking for the warning signs of possible self-neglect. Every person with dementia is different and represents differently. It is important for us to know your loved one’s past as well as their likes and dislikes in order to be able to help. We tailor encounters and activities for who they are as well as who they have been throughout life.