‘It’s nice to think somebody’s listening to me instead of saying “oh shut up”’. People with dementia reflect on what makes communication good and meaningful

Sarah Alsawy, Liam Ennis, Warren Mansell, Phil McEvoy, Sara Tai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Introduction

Social isolation can be problematic for people with dementia; understanding what makes communication meaningful may reduce such risk.

Scientific rationale

Previous research has examined caregivers’ or professionals’ experiences of meaningful communication. Understanding this from the perspectives of people with dementia could enhance their interactions and wellbeing.

Aim

Exploring what makes communication meaningful from the perspective of people with dementia.

Methods

Nine dyadic interactions between a person with dementia and a family carer were filmed. Individuals with dementia watched the footage and reflected on their communications in semi‐structured interviews.

Results

Three superordinate themes emerged. Themes ‘sharing moments of emotional connection’ and ‘empowering one's ability to communicate’ related to the experience of feeling connected, understood, valued and heard, allowing further communication. Conversely, ‘inhibitors to communication’ related feeling disempowered and reduced interactions.

Discussion

Even when carers could not understand what people with dementia attempted to communicate, their efforts to interact with them were valued and considered meaningful as they reinforce their sense of connectedness.

Implications for practice

Embracing a person‐centred approach by actively attuning to the person and continuously attempting to empathize and understand persons with dementia can help preserve important relationships and allow the person to feel valued and interpersonally connected.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Early online date26 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2019

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