Some people never understand that they have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It’s called Anosognosia (a lack of ability to know that they have a disability). The portion of the brain that controls our awareness about ourselves is damaged by dying neurons. Biologically they can’t know that they have a cognitive illness. That’s different than denial. Denial is a purposeful thought process that rejects something they inherently know to be true. Some people do know and are aware that something is wrong with their thinking processes. They may not know exactly what it is, but they know that something is not right, that they are different than other people. Some people will say “I have Alzheimer’s” some will say I have memory problems” or any one of a number of similar things. It’s really depends on the individual. I can say that if someone understands that their thinking is impaired, it happens fairly early in the diseases. Sometimes the knowledge stays with them months or years, sometimes not. It depends upon how fast the disease proceeds and which portions of the brain become impaired.
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This is an excellent question.
The answer is a thorough one , combining concrete dementia information with experiential knowledge. The latter being so important.