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Communicating a Diagnosis
Two words – honest and compassionate – best describe the conversation between the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute team, an individual who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia, and the people who love that individual.
Our team understands that this initial conversation – managed well – can relieve the stress, frustration and fear associated with not knowing what is causing symptoms. It’s also reassuring for people to know that the Banner Alzheimer’s team will stand with them – and their primary care provider as well as their referring physician – to navigate all aspects of their Alzheimer’s disease/dementia care.
Prior to discussing a diagnosis, our team considers the family’s dynamics and cultural values. Our meeting with the individual and his or her support network involves the Banner Alzheimer’s professionals who made the diagnosis. This includes a physician, geriatric specialist, nurse, social worker, psychologist and others. During this meeting, the Banner Alzheimer’s team provides:
A treatment and care plan that is sensitive to the person’s values and beliefs
Learning materials, supportive information and community resources through Navigating through Memory Loss: A guide for patients and families
Information on how the Banner Alzheimer’s team and the individual’s physician(s) collaborate on care
Sufficient time to answer questions from the individual and family
An offer for a future meeting for continued discussion
After sharing the diagnosis, we keep in close contact to monitor how the individual and family members are responding to the information. We’ve found reactions may range from acceptance and relief to denial and depression. As their care team, we reinforce that we are committed to partnering with them on this journey.