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1.1 A diagnosis is the first step

Getting a diagnosis is the first step in moving forward. Understand your symptoms, treatment options, and adapt to life with dementia.

Getting a diagnosis is the first step in moving forward with dementia

ou have been diagnosed with dementia.

You probably have many mixed feelings about having dementia. This is normal.

Receiving your diagnosis is the first step in moving forward with dementia. Now you have a name for the disease, and an explanation for your symptoms. Knowing more about dementia means you know more about what to expect and what you can do.

Many people with dementia live meaningful, full lives after their diagnosis. The information included in this website is based on what people with dementia have shared with us – their good and bad experiences, challenges they’ve faced and solutions they’ve used, combined with up-to-date research. This information and suggestions provided will help you choose your own path forward with dementia. 

People with dementia told us the following actions helped them in the first year after diagnosis. You don’t have to take all these actions and there is no correct order. The links on the text below will take you to the sections of the website that hold information on each of the following topics.


  • Understand your diagnosis – this will help you to make sense of what you are going through 
  • Manage your feelings – feelings about having a diagnosis of dementia sometimes get in the way of coming to terms with dementia
  • Deal with your symptoms – there are strategies and treatments that can help with symptoms, which may be interfering with your life
  • Live well with dementia – your life doesn’t need to stop because you have dementia, and an active lifestyle may improve brain health
  • Plan so you stay in control – plan for now and the future and know what services and supports can help

Understanding your type of dementia will help you adjust and plan

  • Dementia is the umbrella term for a group of diseases which affect the brain. To get a diagnosis of dementia, your doctor will have found that you’re having difficulty with things such as changes in your memory or thinkingwhich makes it harder for you to go about your daily life.  
  • Common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, fronto-temporal dementia, Lewy Body dementia and mixed dementia.
  • Each type of dementia has different patterns of changes in the brain, different patterns of symptoms, and different drug treatments. However, non-drug strategies and treatments for symptoms tend to work for all types of dementia. It is not always possible for the physician to make a definitive diagnosis for the exact cause of dementia, but treatment will still be offered based on the most likely cause.
  • Click here for more information on specific types of dementia.