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A Different Approach to Talking About a Dementia Diagnosis

A doctor and her patient sit in a room talking about a dementia diagnosis.
People benefit when care professionals use empathetic approaches for talking about a dementia diagnosis.

There’s nothing simple about a dementia diagnosis. It is the beginning of a difficult that is heightened if the diagnosis is given starkly, without empathy or compassion. There are steps physicians can (and should) take when talking about a dementia diagnosis to lessen the initial impact, empowering and equipping the individual and family with support and knowledge.

The following are a few of the ways care professionals are trying to improve the way they speak about dementia, and why it matters.

  • Lead with Empathy: Rather than jumping right to medical jargon and statistics, doctors are now starting conversations with understanding and empathy. They recognize the emotional impact of a dementia diagnosis and strive to create a safe space for individuals and their family members to express their fears and concerns. Along with this empathetic approach, physicians are also encouraging open discussion about the practical aspects of managing dementia, including daily routines and available support services.
  • Build Networks of Support: More and more, doctors are connecting patients and families with supportive networks and resources in their area. Whether it’s specialized services, caregiver support groups, or dementia-friendly activities, these networks provide essential emotional and practical support throughout the dementia journey. Doctors 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.
  • Person-First Care: Recognizing that everyone’s dementia experience is different, doctors are shifting towards a person-first approach to care. Ideally, they are engaging patients in conversations about their values, goals, and preferences, making sure care plans are tailored to the individual’s needs and wishes. This personalized approach extends beyond medical treatment to cover holistic support, including emotional well-being and social connectedness, fostering a sense of dignity and autonomy.
  • Education as Empowerment: Many doctors are moving toward talking about a dementia diagnosis with education, arming 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. There’s also an emphasis on the need for proactive measures, such as lifestyle adjustments and early intervention strategies, to improve quality of life and delay the progression of the disease.
  • Consistent Communication: The conversation does not end with the initial diagnosis. Doctors must be invested in ongoing communication with patients and families, providing updates on the advancement of the disease, discussing treatment plans, and offering support every step of the way. This ongoing conversation 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 think a loved one may be experiencing dementia symptoms, or if they have already received a diagnosis, it’s crucial to find a health care provider that follows best practices such as these. It’s equally important to partner with a home care provider with specialized expertise in the unique needs of caring for someone with dementia.

At Superior Senior Home Care, our dementia care team is fully trained, highly skilled, and well known as the experts in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Nipomo, and the surrounding area. Our innovative approach to care promotes independence, respect, and dignity. Get in touch with us online or at 805-737-4357 to learn more.

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