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Anosognosia or lack of awareness of the disease in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease

Anosognosia or lack of awareness of the disease in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease

December 11, 2019

For years there has been an interest in finding natural treatments that improve the quality of life and well-being of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Sadly, once the disease has progressed, people with this type of diagnosis are losing the ability to be aware of their own disease, and it is not a denial of the disease, but a true loss of consciousness about the changes, limitations and severity at the cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral level, which the disease brings. This symptom is known as anosognosia. This clinical phenomenon has a significant impact on treatment and on caregivers.

In many diseases, awareness about the disease allows people to find strategies and mechanisms to adapt to their new conditions. On the other hand, anosognosia in patients with diseases such as AD, has effects on self-regulation, which results in greater difficulties to change routines, adhere to treatment, meet new people, change houses, change caregivers, visit new ones. doctors or going on a trip, to give some examples. Thus, patients with this diagnosis are more isolated, have more symptoms of anxiety, sleep disturbances and greater changes in mood, and this impacts their quality of life on subjective well-being, but also represents a risk for the patient, because he overestimates his abilities to function normally in everyday life and does not ask for help to perform certain tasks that could endanger his health, such as forgetting to turn off the stove when they have finished cooking or leave the gas key open.

One of the theories that explain the causes of anosognosia is the general cognitive deficit present in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, especially when these deficits are very advanced. However, it has been found that, if an early detection of the disease is made and this clinical phenomenon is intervened, it is possible to achieve more efficacy and efficiency in the treatments for the rest of cognitive, emotional and behavioral symptoms.

Although there is still more research, some studies show important results of the use of natural components such as curumine and cannabis plant derivatives, such as low-dose THC, to improve cognitive functions, which would represent an advance in the treatment of the most worrisome symptoms in the functioning of patients with AD. Better patient self-care capabilities also represent more tranquility of caregivers, while risk behaviors may be reduced by increasing awareness of the disease.