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6 Questions Every Family Should Ask When a Loved One Is Diagnosed With Dementia

Written by OurParents Staff
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated February 10, 2024

When a doctor checks your aging parent for dementia, they use several tests to understand their condition better. It’s important to understand the purpose of these tests and further information about their diagnosis in order to ensure your loved one receives the best care possible. Usually, a neurologist will diagnose dementia through tests covering memory, orientation, reasoning, and judgment, along with one or two brain scans like CT, MRI, or PET. Knowing the right questions to ask the neurologist about a dementia diagnosis is crucial to understanding what’s going on with your loved one. Check out our list below of the top six questions to ask when your loved one is diagnosed with dementia.

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1. Does my loved one understand that they have been diagnosed with dementia?

Sometimes, people with dementia might not fully understand or accept they have it. This could be because they don’t see the changes in themselves, or they might not want to believe it. People with dementia also feel and see the world differently, so it’s important to have friends and family who can help support the person with dementia’s identity.
When you talk to your loved ones with dementia, it’s important to be kind and understanding. If they don’t understand their diagnosis, it’s okay. What matters more is how they feel. Try to see things from their point of view. This makes you a better supporter for them and can also help them feel respected or less worried. Focus on making them feel comfortable and loved rather than making sure they know about their dementia.[01]

2. How does dementia progress?

Once your parent has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s essential to learn what the foreseeable future will look like for both you and your loved one. Learning about the typical course of the disease will help you prepare on all levels, including emotionally, financially, and physically. You should also get legal paperwork in order, assign a power of attorney for the future, and make other important decisions. This can help you better prepare for the future with your loved one.

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3. Is the diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?

The distinction between Alzheimer’s and dementia is that Alzheimer’s is a specific type of dementia. If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, a set of cognitive symptoms, it’s essential to find out exactly which type of dementia it is. Is it Lewy body dementia? Is it vascular? Or is it Alzheimer’s? Some types of dementia progress faster than others, so it’s important to ask questions about the type of dementia your loved one was diagnosed with to correctly anticipate what’s to come.

4. What do caregivers need to understand about dementia?

Asking what will be expected from you as a caregiver, as well as researching dementia resources through organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, are two important points to focus on in the early phases of the disease. Remember to continue caring for yourself as well. In doing so, you will be able to provide better care for your loved one.

5. What else could the diagnosis be?

When you notice your aging parent or grandparent having trouble remembering things, it’s important to consider all possibilities before settling on a dementia diagnosis. The National Institute on Aging points out that memory problems can have various causes. Be sure to ask your loved one’s doctors to explore all potential reasons first. Some health issues that can look like dementia symptoms include:
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Low vitamin B12 levels
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Thyroid problems[02]
To avoid an accidental assumption of dementia, advocate for your loved one to receive the Mini-Mental State Examination. This test helps differentiate between typical memory changes due to aging and more serious conditions. Asking this question ensures your loved one receives the appropriate diagnosis, so they can get the correct care and support.

6. What are the next steps after a dementia diagnosis?

One of the most important considerations after your loved one is diagnosed with dementia should be when and where they will receive the best care. You must evaluate whether your loved one can live alone or if they need round-the-clock care in a senior living community. Some potential care options include:

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Knowledge is the key to healthy aging

Knowing which questions to ask about dementia care is the first step in supporting your loved one with healthy aging. After your loved one receives a dementia diagnosis, have a thorough discussion with their neurologist to understand the disease’s implications and the best way forward.
If the diagnosis suggests that independent living may no longer be safe or feasible, you may need to consider alternative senior living options. Our Senior Care Advisors are here to help you find the most appropriate senior living arrangement to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one. These advisors can help you find care options in your area tailored specifically to your loved one’s individual needs, all at no cost to you.


  1. Alzheimer’s Society. (2022, June 27). Understanding and supporting a person with dementia.

  2. National Institute on Aging. (2023, November 22). Memory problems, forgetfulness, and aging.

Meet the Author
OurParents Staff

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