To evaluate the attitudes towards informing senile patients about the diagnosis among Chinese clinicians, patients and their relatives, and explore the factors restricting senior citizens from implementing their right of informed consent independently, a cross-sectional study was conducted in Beijing in June 2013. 100 clinicians, 250 competent inpatients and their closest relatives chosen by stratified random sampling method were measured by a questionnaire anonymously. There were 78 doctors, 203 patients and 218 relatives who responded, and 60.6% of the patients were over 65 years old. As with the young and middle-aged, almost all senile patients desired to learn about their condition. However, to avoid dispute or other troubles, 52.9% of medical staff tended to inform the family members first, and 9.5% of relatives were reluctant to disclose all the information to senile patients for fear of embarrassment or other undesirable negative effects. So increasing the communication skills training for clinicians, abandoning the rule of family members’ consent for competent patients and publicising the positive effects of informed consent are the key measures to safeguard senile patients’ rights in China.