Telling people

My mum has just received a diagnosis of dementia. How do we tell family and friends? Should we be talking to Mum about her diagnosis or will it upset her?

Your Mum may well know that something is wrong and may be worried about the changes that she is noticing in herself. It is important that once a diagnosis is reached she has the opportunity to discuss the diagnosis, what it means, what the future might hold and the types of support she might need. (She should be informed of the diagnosis, ideally when a family member or close friend is present, by the professional who has completed the assessment, or the professional who knows her best.)

Time should be given to your Mum and your family to process what it means, and you should be encouraged and allowed to ask questions. This could be at the time of diagnosis or as soon as possible after this. It is a good idea to tell close family and friends about the diagnosis, so they are aware, can offer advice and support as needed and understand why these changes are happening. Some people (especially when the person with dementia lives alone) inform a close neighbour or friend so that they are aware and can provide some support as and when needed.

Talking to young children about dementia can be difficult. However, children are normally very aware that something is wrong and are normally able to accept the diagnosis for what it is, and not let it affect their relationship with the person with dementia. Family, friends and the local community may have difficulties coming to terms with the changes in the person diagnosed with dementia and helplines such as Admiral Nursing Direct can give tailored specialist advice and support to help maintain relationships.