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What to look for?

Self-Awareness | Common Signs

  • Does not know or understand that he or she has dementia. (This is also an example of the symptom of loss of comprehension/understanding)
  • Is oblivious to own memory or related problems (e.g. does not know he or she repeats themselves)
  • Claims to be actively doing things he or she no longer does (e.g. laundry)
  • Falsely believes he or she is still able to do things as well as they used to
  • Does not recognize when he or she makes a mistake
  • Cannot describe their feelings to people. This can also be an example of the symptom of language difficulty)
  • Does not recognize themselves in the mirror
  • Unaware of their own skills and abilities
  • Denial of the disease
Self-Awareness | General Description

In the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies , people have varying degrees of self-awareness. Some people are very aware of their limitations, making them feel sad for the way they are now and making them worried about the future. In general, as the disease progresses, the level of self-awareness will most likely decline. In the earlier stages of the disease, the person you care for may deny or not understand that they have the disease. This can result in them not realizing their own limitations in their abilities , such as driving. As well, the person you care for may believe that they are completing tasks which are now being done for them. For example, they may think they have made the bed when someone else has. As their self-awareness declines, so will their ability to express their thoughts and feelings accurately. This loss of self-awareness does not have to be a negative thing. If someone with Alzheimer's disease does not recognize their decline, it is possible that they could believe they were suffering less.

Related to insight, self awareness means you have the ability to "see" yourself as others see you. As insight is affected in people with Frontotemporal dementia , so too is their ability to recognize their behaviours, deficits and illness. They no longer know what appropriate social behaviour is and often lose their inhibitions. In many ways, the "self" that they were has changed and they exhibit behaviour that would have been bizarre in their former concept of self. One disturbing behaviour for caregivers and families is a hypersexual behaviour. This can range from a preoccupation with sexual jokes to compulsive masturbation or sexual behaviour in public.

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See Also:
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Comprehension/ Understanding
Symptom Library > Everyday Activities > Household Chores
Symptom Library > Memory & Language > Language Difficulty/Expression/Word Finding
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Low Mood
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Low Self Esteem
Symptom Library > Everyday Activities > Driving
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Self-Awareness
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Natural Progression and Staging
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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