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Dementia reporting guidelines

Here are some important points to remember when reporting on dementia. For more information and advice, contact our Media team.

Use current information

Dementia’s effect on Australians changes year by year. Research into its causes, forms and treatments is ongoing. As a result, facts and figures about dementia can quickly go out of date.

Reporting current, accurate information about dementia is vital. For authoritative statistics, see Dementia Australia’s Facts and figures page.

Use appropriate language

The language we use influences how others treat or view people with dementia. Outdated stereotypes contribute to stigma, further marginalising people living with dementia and their families and carers.

The media can uphold the dignity and rights of people with dementia with coverage that defines people with dementia by who they are, not their diagnosis. The greater the public understanding of dementia, the better the quality of life for people directly affected.

When reporting on dementia, use Dementia Australia’s Dementia Language Guidelines.

Take care with the word “cure”

Be cautious when discussing the possibility of a cure for dementia. While this may make appealing media, inaccurate or exaggerated suggestions in this area are potentially harmful for people affected by dementia.

Include a point of contact

Wherever possible, include details for the National Dementia Helpline in news stories about dementia, as these stories often prompt questions or concerns. 

If this story has prompted any questions or concerns, please call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or visit

Personalise and normalise dementia

Reporting that includes self-advocacy by people with dementia, including the disclosure by well-known people like Hazel Hawke and Bruce Willis of their dementia, helps normalise the condition, and make the issue less confronting.

Use humour thoughtfully

Humour can be an effective way of diminishing fear of dementia if it’s used with great sensitivity. Sharing the funny personal anecdotes of people with direct experience of dementia can really work to reach audiences, but the stereotypical Alzheimer's/dementia jokes decrease understanding and cause hurt.

The test to be applied is: does this humour maintain the person's dignity?

Interview and interact sensitively

  • Interviewing a person with dementia may require patience. Be prepared to allow more time for answers and be willing to repeat questions if necessary.
  • Ask only one clearly phrased question at once and be clear and precise when seeking information on the person's experiences.
  • Be aware that because dementia is a memory condition, it may be difficult for the person to answer questions which require them to draw on their memory.
  • It is common to receive short, concise responses rather than drawn out explanations from people with dementia, so be prepared to move from these to the next point.
  • Don't confuse dementia with a hearing disability. It may help to speak clearly, but it’s not necessary to raise your voice.
  • Treat the person with dementia like any other interviewee. Act naturally, greet them with a handshake, and avoid patronising or over-praising.
  • If you do not understand the answer you receive, ask for clarification, or repeat what you have understood for confirmation.
  • Avoid correcting, interrupting or speaking on behalf of the person.
  • Remember the individual behind the condition. Report them as a person first and one who has dementia second.  Listen to their story.

Use positive images

The photography accompanying copy can help remove fear and stigma surrounding dementia and encourage people to acknowledge and engage with the issues.

Positive imagery depicts people living with dementia connected to their world: together with family, friends and carers, being actively involved in life, equal to the people around them.

Avoid images of the subject appearing frail, alone or distressed.

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Last updated
1 February 2024