Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Foundation of America

Language Tips

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is here to help professionals and care partners alike to promote the consistent use of person-centered, inclusive and non-stigmatizing language when talking about dementia and people living with dementia. Using words with negative meaning when talking about dementia can have a deep impact on the person with dementia as well as on their family and friends.

When talking about dementia, use language such as: Avoid characterizations such as:
Dementia Dementing illness
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia Demented
A form of dementia Senile dementia
Symptoms of dementia Sickness
A person/people with dementia Sufferer
A person/people living with dementia Victim
Patient (When used outside medical field)
Resident (When used outside of medical field)


Discuss behaviors as a form of communication using phrases such as: Do not use expressions such as:
Changed behavior(s) Challenging
Expressions of unmet need Attention seeker
Psychological symptoms of dementia Aggressor


Describe the impact of dementia with terms such as: Refrain from words such as:
Change in life expectations Hopeless
Stressful Tragic

Have questions or need more information? Contact AFA’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 or click the chat icon in the lower right hand corner of this page.

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