Communicating with Persons with Dementia

The monthly caregiver's meeting was held on Saturday, 9th July, 2011 from
2.30 pm – 3.30 pm at Memory Clinic, Ground floor, Millennium Block, NIMS.

This month's topic was "Communicating with Persons with Dementia". The audience comprised of family members and ARDSI volunteers. Dr. Vani Rupela – Speech Pathologist gave a presentation on the topic.

She explained differences between verbal and non verbal communication with a couple of small exercises. Communication involves expression, tone, gestures, body language in addition to language. In verbal communication words constitute only 30% while the remaining 70 % is non-verbal communication (gestures, body language, etc).  In Dementia patients’ common communication problems faced included name recall, finding correct words, sentence formation, understanding, reading, writing and slowness in speech, due to which the patient tends to withdraw from communicating with others. Consequently family members stop communicating with the person, wrongly assuming that he/she is not interested in a conversation. Gradually it leads to reduced interaction. The onus is on us to change and requires us to provide them the environment and support to communicate effectively. She also recommended that eye contact and familiar topics must be used while communicating with patient and to avoid speaking about the patient’s condition in their presence as their senses are functioning.

A video about Gladys Wilson and Naomi Feil was presented. A question and answer session followed.