Redefining Conversations Around the Diagnosis of Dementia

An older woman receiving a diagnosis of dementia is comforted by her doctor.
Learn what to expect from the doctor when receiving a diagnosis of dementia.

Getting a diagnosis of dementia is never easy. It kicks off  an emotional rollercoaster of emotions, which are heightened if the diagnosis is given starkly, without empathy or compassion. There are steps physicians can (and should) take when delivering a dementia diagnosis to ease the initial impact, empowering and equipping the individual and family with support and knowledge.

Here are a few of the ways physicians are striving to improve how they speak about dementia, and why it matters.

  1. Start With Empathy: Instead of jumping straight to statistics and medical jargon, doctors are now starting conversations with empathy and understanding. They recognize the emotional impact of a dementia diagnosis and strive to create a secure space for patients and their family members to talk about their fears and concerns. In addition to this empathetic approach, physicians are also encouraging open discussion about the practical aspects of managing dementia, like daily routines and available support services.
  2. Knowledge as Empowerment: Doctors are shifting towards an educational approach, equipping patients and families with knowledge about dementia. By explaining the condition in accessible language and providing resources for further learning, they empower individuals to better navigate the journey ahead. Additionally there is an emphasis on the need for proactive measures, such as lifestyle modifications and early intervention strategies, to improve well being and delay disease progression.
  3. Person-Centered Caregiving: Recognizing that each individual’s experience with dementia is unique, doctors are shifting towards a person-centered approach to care. Ideally, they are engaging patients in discussions about their goals, preferences, and values, making certain care plans are customized to the person’s needs and wishes. This personalized approach extends beyond medical treatment to encompass holistic support, including emotional well-being and social connectedness, fostering a sense of dignity and autonomy.
  4. Supportive Networks: Doctors are increasingly connecting patients and families with supportive networks and resources within the community. Whether it’s dementia-friendly activities, specialized services, or caregiver support groups, these networks provide important emotional and practical support throughout the dementia journey. Medical professionals should also be advocating for the involvement of family caregivers in care planning and decision-making, recognizing their invaluable role in providing continuity of care and enhancing the person’s quality of life.
  5. Ongoing Communication: The conversation does not end with the initial diagnosis. Doctors should be dedicated to ongoing communication with patients and families, providing updates on the progression of the disease, discussing treatment options, and offering support each step of the way. This ongoing discussion fosters trust and collaboration, empowering individuals and their loved ones to make informed decisions and adapt to the evolving challenges of dementia caregiving.

If you suspect a loved one may be in the early stages of dementia, or if they’ve recently been diagnosed, it’s essential to find a health care provider that follows best practices such as these. It’s just as important to partner with a home care provider with specialized expertise in the unique needs of caring for someone with dementia.
At JFS Care, our dementia care team is fully trained, highly skilled, and well known as the experts in West Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and the nearby areas. Our creative approach to care promotes independence, respect, and dignity. Contact us at 213-383-2273 to learn more.