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Telling someone they have dementia

The way you tell someone they have dementia impacts how they and their care partners accept, adjust, and move forward with managing their diagnosis

Here are four important things to bear in mind when telling someone they have dementia: 

  1. Communicate information.  People with dementia and care partners respond in different ways to a diagnosis of dementia. Depending on their reactions, some people may not remember the information they are told at diagnosis. Provide verbally tailored information and provide a written summary that they can take home with them to review later.   
  2. Be compassionate. Validate the person with dementia’s feelings and reassure them. If another person is with them during the diagnosis, offer the same compassion to them.  
  3. Convey hope. Reassure them that they have done the right thing seeking help and that there are many different types of treatment available for them.  Some of the treatments may include medications, support and services from allied health professionals, lifestyle modifications, continuing to be physically and socially active. Emphasize that the diagnosis is the first step in managing dementia. 
  4. Ensure timely follow up.  Include where and when follow-up will happen (e.g., return to your clinic, with another specialist). 

To Do

  • Print our patient Take Home Information sheet. It contains space to add key information for people newly diagnosed with dementia, including the contact number for the Alzheimer Society of Canada.  
  • Scan the extensive information for people living with dementia and  care partners on this website. The pages under each section are printable (see print icon at bottom of each page) and can also be emailed (see email icon). 
  • View and download Forward with Dementia promotional resources for your clinic including flyers and posters

Learn more

“I was shocked when I left..I felt so uncertain about what was going to come. Now that I have a plan for my future care, I feel more hopeful.