Alternative Ways to Describe an Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Should someone with Alzheimer's disease be told of the diagnosis? A doctor is ethically obligated to share the results of findings with the patient. And knowing the truth allows the person to be an active participant in future planning. Some affected people, however, seem to refuse to hear (or fail to remember) such diagnoses. For them, the truth may be too dispiriting.

In such cases, what can you try instead? Choose a way to describe the disease that you're both comfortable with:

  • possible or probable Alzheimer's

  • a memory disorder

  • a progressive brain disorder

  • cognitive impairment

  • progressive dementia

Any alternative description rooted in fact is useful when it makes clear -- to you, to your loved one, and to family and friends -- that there's a physical disorder that's responsible for the behavior changes, and the person isn't to blame.


almost 2 years ago, said...

It corroborated my decisions about nomenclature for discussion


almost 3 years ago, said...

I have just told my two daughters that I am in the early stages of Alzheimer's and one said ok mom and walked away the oldest one said u have been repeating things for a long time and forgetting things I think u need to change doctors and he needs to change your medicine. And that was the end of it. I just didn't know what to say?


over 3 years ago, said...

thank you for sending me this articule


over 3 years ago, said...

I remember the days when people died of cancer without ever hearing the "C" word or having any discussion of dying with the family or the patient by the physician. I feel we need to have these conversations. As some of you have discovered, there may be denial. This is a coping mechanism that may be necessary. Then you deal with that, but at least you know that the attempt was made. There are lots of reasons the diagnosis is not accepted. Sometimes the disease has progressed too far for the person to move forward and assist in the future decisions. This isn't always true. If it were me, I'd want to know, it might make a difference in my short term goals and decisions. I do hope I'll never here those words, but who knows what the future will bring? We all cope the best we can everyday with the problems presented us.


over 3 years ago, said...

we have a joint account and each of us with a separate acct. He has written bad checks on HIS account. I have no idea on how to stop this. It has created pandemonium around here. please advise-thanks PS I divorced my 1st husband due to that kind of situation. Now with his dimentia I am at a loss.


over 3 years ago, said...

We are dealing with someone who heard what the doctor said, but since his is Lewy Body Disease all he wants to remember is it wasn't Alzheimers. We have just been referring to "what you have" causes this or that. He's very aware that something is wrong and that he cannot do things he used to do, but with Lewy Body there are days he is fine and can do everything so it gets confusing for him and us.


over 3 years ago, said...

to discuss this disease or not. I did and my spouse says I am the one with the problem. End of discussion.


about 4 years ago, said...

JUst the fact that this condition should be acknowledged by all concerned.


over 4 years ago, said...

My mom denied hearing it and got super nasty to her friend that went to the doctor's with her when she was first told she had Alzheimer's. A year after that I moved in with her and now make and go to all appointments. Just mentioning "dementia" or "Alzheimer's" triggers anger in her. She now sees a Neurologist and we have her on medication for her "memory problems". We avoid using those words altogether.


almost 5 years ago, said...

Well, revealing these alternatives ,to me, seems not any better since any mention of these also can/may have an equally despiriting effect .For example just mentioning the word Dementia to Mom,she states,' Oh, so you think I'm crazy,huh?"


about 5 years ago, said...

No, and I dont think doctors hav to be so blunt- by labeling people and putting them in a box. Too many take doctors word as GOD and feel hopeless - whats wrong with just giving them H_O_P_E -- I saw firsthand how so many of the oncologists took away all hope when telling my son there was nothing more they could do for him at age 36...I had to talk him back into having a will to live again--by saying Dr.s dont know everything! And they dont! I feel like I was instilling a small ray of hope for him--after every visit- that drs had with him--I think thats terrible. And they should not go behind a patients back adn whisper to the family either--in other words they have been known to be wrong--so dont play God


about 5 years ago, said...

If I were the doctor, I would let the patient describe the symptoms and related problems, then ask the patient if he/she has any thoughts about what's causing them. I would not tell a patient he/she had Alzheimer's or any other specific diagnosis until such time as I had diagnostic proof. Then I would discuss with the patient what implications the diagnosis has for daily life, i.e., should she be driving, does she need help at home, does she need assistance in finding help for her daily life, etc.


over 5 years ago, said...

My mom will say when you try to tell she has Alzheimer's " i aint crazy". Do any others out there hear that too?


over 5 years ago, said...

I am diagnosed for alzheimers


over 5 years ago, said...

My mom was told of the diagnoise and she does'nt remember anything he told her the artical was very helpful and I'm finding more signs every day that she is decling more and more with not being able to get her words or full sentances out. Shell call me her mom and I'm her 63 year old daughter I have to stand over her to make sure she takes her medications, I shower her do all of her grooming for her, set up her cloths at night so she can get dressed in the am I have to remind her it"s time to go to the bathroom. I have a lot of support with the nurses that are involved in the care home program so that I can keep her at home instead of putting her into a nursing home which I don't want to do because I've seen how my Aunt is being cared for in the Nursing home, they get the poor lady dressed put her into her wheelchair and leave her there for hours on end and I think it's a disgraces how these places get away with it. I work since I was 15 years old and I always found the time to take good care of my patients or clients it's a form of elderly abuse and they have to get their acts together, the patients are humaning beings not just statics.