Person-centred language guidelines

Historically, language used to describe Alzheimer's disease and other dementias has largely focused on losses experienced by the person living with these diseases. While these losses are real, negative wording can promote perceptions, interpretations and approaches to care that focus on weakness rather than strength, illness rather than wellness, and victims rather than whole persons.

By being more conscious of the language we use, we can avoid reducing individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to a series of labels, symptoms or medical terms.

How to use the guidelines

The Alzheimer Society of Canada has developed language guidelines for anyone who lives with, supports or cares about a person living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. We hope that the preferred terms in our Person-centred language guidelines will promote consistency in the use of respectful language.

Consider using these guidelines when writing and reviewing policies and procedures, information resources, website content, and promotional or teaching materials. We encourage you to share them with your colleagues.

Person-centred language helps tackle the fear and stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, making the disease one that people are more likely to acknowledge and discuss.

Download the Person-centred language guidelines. Now also available as a single page.

Last Updated: 11/22/2019