Brain Disease Conversation Starters

Talking about brain disease, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment can seem overwhelming sometimes. Whether you just received a diagnosis or you are caring for someone who has been diagnosed, you might feel a strong desire to talk ... and not know what to talk about.

Talk you must. A brain disease affects not just the individual but family and friends. The question is, how?

The Direct Approach

For some people, it is very easy to face a problem head on: They schedule a family meeting, invite that important person over for lunch or use car time to address the issue. They take the direct approach and say something like, "There is something I've been meaning to talk to you about. I've been diagnosed with _____________ and that means we have to make some decisions going forward."

But other people might feel better with a "conversation starter" - a way to start the conversation indirectly. In fact, conversation starters are especially useful when talking to children, who need some context, and to people who are having a hard time with their own or someone else's diagnosis.

Acknowledge Change

One way to start a conversation is to acknowledge some of the changes the person might have noticed either in you (if you have the brain disease) or in themselves (if they have the brain disease.) Loss of memory, coordination, clear thought or speech is something that other people notice and worry about. For example:

"I know you have probably noticed that I am not able to plan a meal anymore. I have been ordering out a lot to try to hide that, but I think we should talk about that and some other issues that are on my mind."