Understanding the Diagnosis

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is a significant point in any person’s life, bringing with it emotional, social and personal consequences for them and for their family. One aspect of beginning the process of adjusting to a diagnosis involves understanding the symptoms that are experienced and how these can be managed. This website contains information on types of dementia and on understanding the symptoms, and links to other websites that explain these in more detail.

However, how people learn to live well with their diagnosis is also achieved by understanding ourselves and what works for each of us. We are all unique individuals whose lifestyles and life experiences have a strong influence on who we are. We don’t stop being a person because we develop dementia. Consequently many things need to be taken into account in order to understand a diagnosis and how to respond to it. These factors include;

  • How we have lived our lives
  • Our life history
  • Our strengths and the things we find difficult
  • The relationships we have with others
  • Our health and wellbeing
  • The environment in which we live
  • How we live our lives now, including things like our activity levels and what we do in our work and home life
  • The strategies we use to cope with life changes
  • The things that make our lives meaningful


Understanding more about what is important to us and what helps us to live our lives the way we wish to can help us to think about how we can respond to the experience of dementia. For example, if our family relationships are important to us now, they are likely to continue to be in our lives with dementia. Indeed they may become more significant to us as a way of coping with the difficult experiences we might have. So thinking about ways to strengthen and support the relationships that are important to us is likely to help us to cope.

Particular strengths or strategies we have used in the past may help us to cope with aspects of difficulties caused by dementia. For example some people find that their long history of using diaries continues to be helpful now as a way of prompting and reminding them of things they need to complete.

Many people have written about their experiences of living with dementia, and highlight particular ways of coping that may be helpful to others. Examples of these experiences can be found here;




You may also find it helpful to look at the pages on this website at the specific type of dementia that you or your family member has been diagnosed with, as there are links to personal experiences specific to that form of dementia.