According to Alzheimer’s Association (2008a), the number of elderly persons above the age of 75 years who have been positively diagnosed with dementia is likely to double in the future. Health practitioners encounter difficulties when communicating with patients suffering from dementia. This situation results in adverse effects on the patients. Therefore, various communication techniques have been suggested to improve communication between patients and hospital caregivers. This paper will discuss these techniques. Further, it will suggest the most appropriate techniques for making health institutions more dementia-friendly.
One of the techniques suggested for use by caregivers is asking permission from patients before carrying out procedures on them. Asking permission is an efficient way to prepare the patient for the procedure. Dementia patients are offended when caregivers proceed right away to administering the treatment without engaging them in communication (Weitzel et al., 2011). Another technique is the use of simple explanations. Dementia patients have lost their short-term memory. Hence, they find it difficult to follow through long discussions. Additionally, caregivers are advised to ask “yes” and “no” questions while at the same time allowing the patients sufficient time to respond to the queries (Alzheimer’s Association, 2008b). Reminiscence is another technique. Weitzel et al. (2011) assert that reminiscence is particularly helpful to dementia patients since they usually have short-term memory. Other suggested techniques include avoiding orientation questions, approaching the patient directly, avoiding the use of pronouns, and giving positive feedback.
Reminiscence is the most appropriate communication technique for dementia patients. According to Weitzel et al. (2011), this technique may be exercised by caregivers by asking patients simple questions regarding their past. The technique is effective because dementia patients are characterized by sustained long-term memory and lost short recollection. According to Weitzel et al. (2011), “reminiscence helps to overlap the past, present, and future time spheres and helps reduce stress” (p. 222). This observation makes reminiscence a more appropriate technique since it addresses memory loss, which is the patient’s primary health problem.
Alzheimer’s Association. (2008a). 2008 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Web.
Alzheimer’s Association. (2008b). Communication. Web.
Weitzel, T., Robinson, S., Mercer, S., Berry, T., Barnes, M., Plunkett, D.,…Kirkbride, G. (2011). Pilot testing an educational intervention to improve communication with patients with dementia. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development (JNSD), 27(5), 220-226.