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Dementia Insights: Understanding The Disease

February 1, 2023

This article will explore the relationship between lack of insight and dementia to understand this disease.

Dementia and Insight - senior black lady and reflection

Dementia is a progressive brain disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, communicate, and perform daily activities.

It can cause changes in behaviour and personality, making it difficult for the person to understand and respond to their environment. 

In mental health, insight refers to a person’s understanding and awareness of their mental health condition and its impact on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.

This can include recognizing the symptoms of a disorder, the need for treatment, and the potential outcomes of not seeking treatment.

Why is it Important to Understand Dementia Patients?

Dementia patients generally lack insight. When patients cannot understand their situation, they will not be able to tell you what’s wrong. 

It is up to the caregiver to figure out what course of action to take. For example, to use a sleep aid for Alzheimer’s patients, you must first know they’re having trouble sleeping.

Understanding the specific symptoms and challenges faced by each individual with dementia can help caregivers.

Healthcare professionals tailor their approach and provide more effective care, including tailored treatments, therapies, and activities that can help improve the person’s quality of life. 

Senior black man with face in his hands looking confused which can happen from loss of insight in dementia

What is the Relationship between the Level of Insight and the Severity of Dementia?

The relationship between the level of insight and the severity of dementia is complex.

It can vary depending on the individual and the specific type of dementia they have.

In general, as dementia progresses and the condition becomes more severe, a person’s level of insight may decrease. 

This means they may have a more challenging time recognizing the symptoms of dementia. It is difficult for them to understand its impact on their lives, and they may be less likely to seek help or comply with treatment.

However, it’s worth noting that dementia is a progressive condition, and the rate of progression can vary significantly from person to person.

Some people with early-stage dementia may still have good insight into their condition. In contrast, others with advanced-stage dementia may have poor insight.

Additionally, specific subtypes of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, may be associated with poor insight early on in the condition.

It’s also important to note that insight is a multidimensional construct, not just a simple cognitive state.

It may be influenced by the person’s personality, coping strategies, and other psychiatric conditions, among other factors.

Doctor smiling with an elderly patient insight can depend on stage of dementia

Do Dementia Patients Understand they have Dementia?

Understanding dementia and its symptoms can vary greatly among individuals with the condition.

In the early stages of dementia, some people may be aware that they are experiencing memory loss or difficulty with certain tasks.

However, as the condition progresses, individuals may become less aware of their cognitive decline and have difficulty understanding or acknowledging that they have dementia.

Additionally, some forms of dementia, such as Lewy body dementia, may cause hallucinations and delusions that can further cloud the individual’s understanding of their condition.

In general, the level of awareness and understanding of dementia will depend on the type of dementia, the stage of the disease, and the individual’s cognitive and functional abilities.

Dementia insight can be difficult - lady in green sari behind a blurred glass

How Do You Tell Someone That They Have Dementia?

It can be challenging to make someone understand that they have dementia, as the disease can lower their ability to understand and process reality.

Many people may be in denial about their condition or may be resistant to the idea of having dementia.

Here are some general approaches that may be helpful when trying to explain to someone that they have dementia:

1.  Use simple language: Avoid medical jargon and use simple and easy-to-understand language when explaining the diagnosis.

2.  Be patient: It can take time for someone to process and accept the diagnosis. Have patience and allow the patient to ask questions and express their feelings.

3.  Focus on the present: Rather than emphasizing the potential future decline, focus on the current symptoms and how they affect the person’s daily life.

4.  Emphasize the importance of treatment: Let the person know that with appropriate treatment, they can improve their quality of life and slow the progression of the disease.

5.  Offer support: Let the person know you are there to support them and offer support groups or counselling resources.

It’s also important to note that it is not always possible to make someone understand that they have dementia. In such cases, it may be best to focus on providing the person the best possible care and support. 

Last Words

Dementia patients may not understand that they have dementia, but there are still plenty of ways to care for them.

Additionally, understanding dementia can help caregivers and healthcare professionals provide emotional support and understanding to the person with dementia and their families.

More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
Please get in touch with a health practitioner
 to discuss your condition, or reach us directly here.

Image Credits: Canva

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