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Dementia Education Online

Module 3: Communication in Dementia Care



With population aging, various forms of dementia are becoming more common, with Alzheimer's disease being the most frequently diagnosed. Alzheimer's disease is characterised by the progressive and relentless destruction of brain tissue which eventually results in complete loss of a person's cognitive and functional abilities (Alzheimer's Australia, 2005a, [1]). Consequently, the person with dementia experiences an eventual loss of verbal communication ability (Alzheimer's Australia, 2005b, [2]). This loss in the ability to make their emotions and physical needs understood places the person with dementia in a vulnerable position, particularly when they require health care or are separated from family. In addition, the inability of the person with dementia to effectively communicate with others can lead to frustration and apprehension (Morris, [3]).

However, the health care practitioner can attempt to meet the physical and emotional needs of a person with dementia and their family more effectively, by striving to find meaning behind their actions and verbal expression and responding by applying effective communication skills (Morris, [3]).

Aims of this Learning Module

The aims of this learning module are to:

  • Understand the effect of dementia on communication
  • Provide an overview of the importance of effective communication in dementia care
  • Outline strategies to enhance effective communication between the health care practitioner and the person with dementia

Outcomes after Completing this Learning Module

By the end of this learning module students will be able to:

  • Understand the effect of dementia on communication
  • Outline assessment data that may assist planning communication strategies with the person with dementia
  • List behaviours that enhance communication between the health care practitioner and the person with dementia
  • Identify behaviours that inhibit communication when the person has dementia
  • Outline ways to assess the effectiveness of communication strategies

Content Focus Areas

This learning module is built around three content focus areas:

  1. Effect of dementia on communication
  2. Effective communication in dementia care
  3. The role of the health care practitioner in supporting effective communication with the person with dementia

How To Complete This Module

To complete this learning module, work through the activities aligned to the three content focus areas and the cumulative reflection activity. References to resources have been provided for information to complete the module and reflection activities. A learning module evaluation is also provided. The information gathered from this tool will be used to inform iterative developments of this learning module.

References and Resources

  1. Alzheimer’s Australia 2005, Dementia. What is it?,

  2. Alzheimer’s Australia 2005, Communication. Caring for someone with dementia, http://www.alzheimers.org.au/common/files/NAT/20090400_Nat_HS_2.1Communication.pdf

  3. Morris…??

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