6 tips for breaking a dementia diagnosis to your parent

vision-missionInforming patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) of their diagnosis is hard. Family members often ask physicians not to inform the patient about it, as they are not in the favor of disclosing the diagnosis of dementia to their loved ones. This could be because their loved ones may not be in the condition to understand it or it may create more anxiety in the patients regarding their future. Family caregivers may also experience fear thinking about their loved one’s reaction to it, or they may not know how to break the news to them. Physicians are also reluctant to disclose AD diagnosis to their patients.

People should be told they have dementia only when they start asking what is wrong with them or, more specifically, inquiring about their diagnosis. If the person with dementia is frustrated and feels he can’t do things he once could it’s fair to give an explanation of their diagnosis. If these experiences are not acknowledged, they may feel frightened, anxious and lonely. Giving a diagnosis has been identified as one of the five most difficult aspects of dementia care (Rae, McIntosh, & Colles, 2001).

Here are some tips on sharing the  diagnosis to the loved ones.

1) One needs to assess the insight level of their parent about their condition before giving him/her the reality check. This also depends on the stage of his/her illness. Disclosure while the person is in the early stages of dementia gives him/her the opportunity to do things that may be important to them.

2) If the parent is in a position to comprehend what’s being explained, it is a good decision to explain it to him/her otherwise it will only create more confusion in them.

3) One has to calm down and get their own facts cleared first before starting to explain about dementia to their parent.

4) Children can start with explaining the basic structure of the brain and changes that happen which can result in memory impairment and further leading towards dementia.

5) The explanation should be simplified and should be explained to the parent depending upon their level of understanding.

6) One should be very patient and should reassure the loved one while disclosing the diagnosis as it may be difficult for them to believe about their illness

One of the positive outcomes of disclosing the diagnosis is that the patients will have a context to place worrying things that were happening to them. Most individuals with a dementia lose insight into their own deficits, or they simply forget that they are forgetful. If your loved one accepts their diagnosis, provide reassurance that you’ll provide ongoing help and support to them. Everybody’s dementia is different. What works for one may not work for another.


We at Samvedna Senior Care aim to help seniors live happy, active and independent lives, in the comfort of their home and community through interactive caregiving.

Samvedna Senior Care was established in October 2013 with two complementary goals – firstly to provide quality home care services to seniors with limited mobility and social interaction due to various constraints, and secondly to facilitate stimulating community interaction and participation.

Our Dementia Care services are –

At-home services – 
Dementia intervention activities by trained Care Specialists (already mentioned above)
Day Wellness Centre, Sector 57 Gurgaon  – 
A place which provides your loved one with social activities and therapies to enhance quality of life, relief for caregivers, and also an alternative to institutionalized care.
Dementia Support Group – 
Our Dementia Support group in Delhi NCR is a platform for caregivers to share feelings and support each other. We meet once a month at the Samvedna Senior Centre in Gurgaon.
Please call us for more info – 98184 21446, 124 4229659
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