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Dementia and communication

02 December 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 12


People with dementia of all stages and subtypes can experience challenges with communicating. Therefore, it is vital that community nurses working with people with dementia have an understanding of the ways in which communication might be challenged, and that they have skills in communicating effectively. This article presents an overview of the ways in which dementia might impact on communication and offers the model of person-centred dementia care as a way of communicating effectively. The use of person-centred communication in practice is illustrated through a case study approach, highlighting the practical approaches that can be used by community nurses in their practice.

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms characterised by behavioural changes, loss of cognitive and social functioning brought about by progressive neurological disorders (Barber, 2020). There are over 200 subtypes of dementia, but the most common are Alzheimer's, vascular, Lewy Body, mixed dementia (often a combination of Alzheimer's and vascular) and frontotemporal dementias (Sandilyan and Dening, 2019). Dementia can either be young onset or late onset. Young onset dementia refers to people who develop dementia before the age of 65 years, while late onset refers to those who develop dementia after the age of 65 years (Carter et al, 2022). There are estimated to be approximately 950000 people currently living with dementia in the UK and estimates indicate this will increase to 1.6 million by 2040 (Wittenberg et al, 2019).

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