Receiving a dementia diagnosis

If you are given a diagnosis of dementia, it's important that you get the right information and support. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and find out more to help you adjust to your diagnosis.

Assessment process and tests
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What happens when you are diagnosed with dementia?

If you have an assessment that shows that you do have dementia, you have the right to be told this diagnosis. You should be asked if you wish to know the outcome.

If you do choose to be told, you will be offered a meeting with a specialist to discuss it. You can attend this meeting on your own if you like, but it can be helpful to bring someone you trust (such as a partner, family member or friend) with you to the appointment. They may be able to offer you support – for example, helping you to remember the details of the meeting.

If the specialist does give you a diagnosis, this should be communicated to you sensitively but honestly. Some doctors might refer to dementia as 'memory problems'. It is important that you understand the language being used. If they are speaking too fast, or giving you too much information too quickly, you can ask them to slow down or explain things differently. You can also ask them if you are unsure about any part of your diagnosis, or if you would like them to clarify anything.

During this meeting it is likely that the specialist will discuss support and treatment with you. They should let you know what options there are for support and treatment, so that you can come to an agreement with them about which options would be best for you. If you are not clear about what the options are, or you are not happy with the proposed plan, you should tell them.

The specialist may go on to talk about how dementia is likely to progress and what to expect in the future. If you are not told this, or it is unclear, then ask them to explain.

If you do receive a diagnosis of dementia, you might struggle to take in everything that is said to you, because it can be a lot to deal with all at once, and you may be feeling upset or anxious. You may also be given a lot of information that is difficult to understand. Remember that you don't have to read it all immediately. You have plenty of time after the meeting to read any information leaflets to help you understand more about what it means to have dementia.

How to get the most out of your dementia diagnosis consultation

  • Ask someone who knows you well to attend the consultation with you, if possible, and talk to them about your expectations and worries before seeing the doctor.
  • Don't be afraid to ask the specialist to explain anything you don't understand, such as medical terms.
  • Write down important points, including any medical terms.
  • Don't be afraid to ask the specialist to explain what dementia means.
  • Ask the specialist for advice on staying positive and adjusting to living with dementia.
The dementia guide

Download or order a free copy of our dementia guide for information and advice on a wide range of topics for people who have just been diagnosed with dementia.

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