A diagnosis of dementia can be very stressful for the person diagnosed, and for their family and carer. Telling a person they have dementia is difficult, and must be handled in a sensitive, calm and dignified way.
The person with dementia has the right to know about their diagnosis, especially if they are diagnosed at an early stage of the disease. However, they also have a right not to know their diagnosis if that is their clear preference.
If you are a carer, friend or family member, you may need to explain:
- why they are getting their symptoms
- what type of dementia they have
- possible treatments for their symptoms
- what services are available to give them help and support.
Sometimes the person with dementia may not understand all it means to have the condition. This is where a family member or carer may need to make some judgements about what the person would want. For example, they may have indicated in the past what they would prefer should this type of situation arise.
Some doctors will always tell their patient about their diagnosis, so it is important to discuss the issue before the doctor visits. It might help to talk with family and friends, and the person’s doctor, beforehand.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website to find out more, or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 for information and support.
Dementia and shared decision-making - expert advice
When a diagnosis of dementia is made, it is important to start thinking about the future. Next steps for the person with dementia need to be discussed with a doctor and close family members. This video provides some important points for the future to consider.
Last reviewed: January 2017