It’s not an easy conversation to have when someone you love received a recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It’s natural that the person may be defensive, angry, or even in denial that anything is wrong. As a caregiver, you might become uncomfortable around your loved one’s privacy and need to talk to someone about the diagnosis and how your role will change as a caregiver.
There are strategies that caregivers or families can use to share the initial news of the diagnosis. The doctor or specialist, assessment team, or members of the family may talk to the person about the diagnosis, either individually or as a group. Planning about the best way to share the diagnosis will make it easier.
Here are some considerations that will be helpful when talking with a person about their diagnosis:
- Don’t put off the conversation
It’s important to have a talk about Alzheimer’s symptoms and plan for care as early as possible – even before a family member exhibits signs of the disease. The sooner people get medical advice about potential Alzheimer’s symptoms, the better.
- Pick a comfortable time and setting
If you do sit down to talk to a loved one about possible signs of Alzheimer’s disease, choose a relaxed setting with few distractions. The right time and will vary for different people, but if you know the person well, you may know what will work best for them.
- Keep trying no matter how much pushback you get
Discussing Alzheimer’s is a sensitive subject, and often people don’t want to recognize they may be exhibiting signs of dementia. They can be defensive and fearful, and making progress can take plenty of patience.
- Get family and healthcare providers involved
If you’re having difficulty communicating with a loved one about Alzheimer’s, see if another family member or a close friend might be willing to try. If signs of early-stage Alzheimer’s are apparent, it’s also important to get the individual to see a doctor right away for a comprehensive evaluation.