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Discrimination and dementia

People with dementia can have active and fulfilling lives for many years after they’re diagnosed. Despite this, they often face discrimination and stigma. This can be an upsetting and isolating experience, and it can have a profound impact on their wellbeing and everyday life.

But there are some simple things that you can do to support someone living with dementia. If you have a family member, friend, employee, workmate or acquaintance with dementia, here’s what you need to know about discrimination.

About dementia discrimination

“I think most discrimination is unintentional — people just do not know how to deal with it.”


Dementia discrimination and stigma are extremely common: 90 per cent of friends, family and care-givers say that a loved one with dementia has been treated with less respect than other people. Friends, family members and care-givers of people with dementia can also experience discrimination.

Discrimination can be subtle or obvious. It can occur throughout daily life: in the workplace, in shops or cafes, at home or at healthcare appointments.

If you know someone who’s living with dementia, you might find they’re treated differently to other people, or you might hear someone making jokes at their expense. These are some other common examples:

  • Family or friends withdrawing from them, or not inviting them to social events or activities.
  • Doctors and health professionals communicating only with their care-givers, or assuming they can’t make their own decisions.
  • People not offering them access to wellness or allied health services, based on the assumption that they won’t benefit from the support.
  • Employers not providing them with the same level of support—either to continue to work, or to transition out of work—as people with other conditions.

The impact of dementia discrimination

This sort of discrimination and stigma can have a significant impact on someone living with dementia. Research has shown that dementia discrimination can discourage people from seeking health care. It can also cause people to feel isolated, and reduce their connection with their friends, family and community.

As a result, it can affect their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

What you can do

Many people struggle to understand dementia, and discrimination and stigma often comes from a lack of knowledge about the condition. But by building understanding in your loved ones and community, and encouraging small changes, you can make a very real difference to people living with dementia.

To learn more about discrimination and how to support someone who’s affected by dementia, download these reports:

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Last updated
12 February 2024