How Healthcare Practitioner’s can Disclose an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis


“You came in here doing lots of things and assuming from our conversations, enjoying life, and that really shouldn’t stop. But you’ve got this new challenge and we’re going to be here for you, we’re going to help you wade through this…”

Beyond the diagnosis of a disease or illness, healthcare practitioners are also required to deliver unpleasant news to their patients sometimes. It becomes important for them to share this news in an effective yet compassionate way. The way this news is delivered becomes an important factor, laying down a foundation of trust and comfort between a physician and the patient.

The video depicts how a physician discloses an Alzheimer’s diagnosis to his patient and her husband, after the patient has previously been assessed for cognitive functioning and impairment and receives her diagnosis during a follow- up consultation.

Healthcare practitioners can start by ensuring that the session is interactive and communicates understanding and support. In the video, Dr. Chodosh inquires about the patient’s general well- being and how the experience of testing was for her, which helps encourage such an interaction. Ruling out other medical conditions and explaining how the test results are synonymous with Alzheimer’s disease is helpful in making patients understand how healthcare practitioners have reached that conclusion.

Using simple and comprehensible language is beneficial while delivering such news. Using excessive medical terms may leave the patient as well as their companions confused and unsure. It is very important for the physician to be honest. Dr. Chodosh proceeds by laying down the steps to be taken by the patient following the diagnosis. This also reduces feelings of helplessness and confusion.

“I would just bet that when you leave, many more questions are going to flood in because it’s really hard to hear this and to even think straight when you hear something like this… know that you can call me anytime”

Recommending support groups, helping patients and their caregivers to get in touch with social workers and providing them with relevant material is of utmost priority.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.  

As a healthcare professional, sharing your opinion helps reflect and influence the healthcare system at large. You can help bring back care into healthcare for the patients, fellow professionals and the family caregivers. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team.

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Source: Actionalz

This video has been curated by Caregiver Saathi. All Rights are Reserved with the original publisher and creators

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