Effective Communication Techniques for Nurses Interacting with Dementia Patients

  • 11 Pages
  • Published On: 18-12-2023


Dementia is referred to as a syndrome in which the thinking, memory, ability and behaviour of an individual to perform everyday function and activities is deteriorated as a result of reduced functioning of the brain cells. The dementia mainly affects people above the age of 65 years and nearly 10 million new cases are reported each day globally regarding dementia (alzheimers.org.uk, 2019). Dementia is seen to interfere with the communication ability of the patients which makes them face hindrance in interacting with nurses to effectively report their needs and demands to be fulfilled. Thus, in this study, communication techniques to be used by nurses in framing effective interaction with dementia patients is to be critically discussed.

Rationale of the Topic

In the UK, nearly 850,000 people are currently suffering from Dementia which is predicted to rise to 1.6 million by the end of 2040 (alzheimers.org.uk, 2019). In 2019, 209,600 people are mentioned to have developed dementia which is equal to 1 dementia detection in individuals in the UK per three minutes (alzheimers.org.uk, 2019). This indicates dementia prevalence is increasing each year and would develop worsen state with progressing years. The increasing rates of dementia among the elderly would create an increased burden of care for the nurses to support them. However, it is mentioned by Osaka et al. (2017) dementia apart from causing memory dysfunction also led individuals to show hindrance in speech formation and communication as one of the key issues towards health. This is because dementia causes the brain to function in deteriorated manner which leads individuals affected by the disease lose ability of processing information.


The progression of dementia damages the brain cells and supports hindered neurotransmitter functioning in the frontal lobe responsible for language formation which leads the speech and communication ability of individuals affected by the disease to worsen with time (Evripidou ert al., 2019). As argued by Gilmore-Bykovskyi et al. (2020), hindered communication ability leads dementia patients unable to share their needs and demands in care with the nurses. This makes the nurses face hindrance in framing appropriate care as per the preference of the service users who are affected by dementia. Thus, the current study is going to explore and critically discuss the communication techniques useful in framing enhanced interaction with dementia patients.

Communication techniques for nurses to care for Dementia patients

The use of enhanced communication techniques in proper manner leads the nurses to form meaningful interaction with dementia patients irrespective of their communication disability affected by the disease. One of the initial communication techniques to be used by nurses caring for dementia patients is limiting distraction and maintaining quite environment during the conversation with the dementia patients (Alsawy et al., 2017). This is because quiet and calm environment makes the dementia patient feel comfortable to talk and effectively process information to develop better interaction with the nurses (Krupić et al., 2018). As argued by Seffo et al. (2020), a noisy and distracted environment makes dementia patients face hardship in making meaningful communication with the nurses. This is because dementia patients out of their progressive damage of brain cells face hindrance in processing thoughts and remembering basic facts. The presence of noise further interferes with their existing thinking capacity and worsen their ability to present rational facts and ideas regarding own perception and needs in care (Janus et al., 2020). Thus, limiting potential distractions in the form of noise and others is one of the essential techniques to be taken by the nurses while framing communication with the dementia patients.

The other communication technique to be used by nurses to frame interaction with patients in dementia care is maintaining interaction regarding a single topic at a time rather than presenting pool of information regarding all topic. This is because dementia makes the patients face hindrance in processing large thoughts and leads them to mentally juggle to engage in meaningful conversation (Jensen et al., 2019). As criticised by Burgio et al. (2018), dementia patients when asked too much information to interpret becomes confused and fail to interpret the information to make successful communication. This is because the condition makes them incapable to connect the multiple threads of facts out of hindered brain functioning, which in turn, makes them provide effective responses in relation to the information asked by the nurses in care. Thus, nurses are to maintain concise and simple communication technique in developing interaction with dementia patients.

The nurses caring for dementia patients are to speak naturally and use gestures as communication technique in framing meaningful conversations with them. This indicates that nurses are to speak openly in simple terms with less complex sentences and maintain a calm voice tone along with use simple sign language to engage in friendly conversation with the dementia patients (Miyazaki et al., 2020). As argued by Dookhy and Daly (2021), dementia patients due to hindered brain functioning are unable to process meaningful words and use signs to indicate their needs. The nurses by understanding the signs and using positive gestures to support the conversation help in avoiding stress to the patients and support them in effectively interact with the nurses.

The communication technique that is non-verbal communication is to be used by nurses in framing enhanced conversation with the dementia patients in care. This is because it supports use of body language, facial expression and others that makes dementia patients feel they are been minutely listened. It leads the dementia patients to feel valued and indulge in enhanced communication with the nurses out of the respect and support formed through the context (Keutchafo et al., 2020). According to Agboola (2018), the SOLER communication model is effective to be used for framing enhanced non-verbal communication with dementia patients. This is because the model specifies the nurses regarding the way body posture, sitting, body language and eye contact is to be maintained so that the dementia patients feel valued and engaged in making communication with them without causing any hindrance.

According to the SOLER model, the nurses caring for dementia patients during non-verbal communication as interaction technique are to sit squarely, maintain open posture, lean towards them, maintain direct eye contact and remain relaxed (Currie, 2018). This is because it presents open body language and ensure the nurses are understanding the facts shared by dementia which in turn makes them confidently in sharing further information. The non-verbal communication technique is to be sued by nurses in case of interacting with dementia patient because due to the disease, they face hindrance in identifying and understanding meaning of words which eventually interferes with their speech formation creating barrier to make enhanced verbal communication (Currie, 2018).

The technique of communication to be used by nurses caring for dementia patients is to allow enough time to the patient to understand facts that are shared and use names along with relationship to specify regarding any person during interaction (Yevchak et al., 2017). This is because it leads the dementia patient face less hardship in understand information and engage in better way to develop conversation with the nurses in informing their needs and demands (Machiels et al., 2017). As argued by O’Brien et al. (2018), asking overwhelming question that support lots of options to be identified leads to hinder enhanced communication development between nurses and dementia patients. This is because too many options make the dementia patients fail to process the data out of their hindered brain performance and thinking capacity, in turn, making them show failure to express their needs and demands while conversing with the nurses. Therefore, nurses are to be aware of the condition and accordingly frame the communication to develop meaningful conversation with the dementia patients.

One of the communication techniques to be maintained nurses while conversing with the dementia patients is to maintain patience and avoid jumping into conclusions. It indicates that dementia patients are to be provided adequate time in processing thoughts and information been shared without facing continuous instigation to think and process information early (Alsawy et al., 2017). This is because the enhanced time makes the dementia patient get gradually accustomed to the environment and get comfortable in thinking and producing words they are struggling with to make the communication with nurses (Wray, 2020). As mentioned by Swan et al. (2018), nurses to develop communication with dementia patients are to avoid creating argument with them as one of the communication techniques. This is because argument makes the person with dementia feel adversity in thinking and worsen the situation of communication for them.

In framing enhanced communication with the dementia patient, one of the techniques to be used in maintaining positive caring attitude during the entire conversation. This is because people with dementia are often seen to be neglected and abuse as well as avoided to be effectively listened by other regarding their needed due to them being considered as burden of care (Wray, 2020). The caring attitude during the communication helps the nurses to make patients feel self-esteem and dignity which led to create value and make the patients indulge in enhanced communication with the nurses (Wallcook et al., 2019). As argued by Wray (2020), strict and rigid communication techniques are to be avoided by nurses in communicating with the dementia patients. This is because rigid communication makes the dementia patient feel lack of confidence and time in processing thoughts to share facts and understanding shared information from the nurses to frame enhanced communication.

In dementia care, the nurses to frame effective communication with the patients are to develop the technique of maintain consistent communication approach. According to the approach, the nurses sharing data with the dementia patients are to ensure lesser confusion in created and repeat information for the patients any number of times to help the gradually understand the facts and respond in making interaction (Lanzi et al., 2017). As argued by Tatangelo et al. (2018), dementia leads the patients to develop hindrance in remembering things. Thus, repetition of the facts during conversation by the nurses makes the patients remember the facts and maintain continuum of the interaction which is essential for making meaningful communication. As criticised by Lanzi et al. (2017), nurses without understand the emotional condition of the dementia patients would be unable to involve them in meaningful interaction. This is because the emotions and behaviour of the dementia fluctuate from day-to-day and without realising their behaviour before communication, the nurses would unable to understand the way they are to initiate the communication to make it in a meaningful way. Thus, framing communication by understand the emotions and behaviour of particular dementia patients is one of the techniques to be considered by nurses to be able to develop enhanced interaction with the patients.

The nurses caring for dementia patients are unknown to them which makes the patient feel confused and lack effective participation in accessing care from them by making communication. This is because patients with dementia in unknown environment and while interacting with unknown people feel vulnerable to be harmed (Wray, 2020). Thus, the communication technique to be used by nurses in this context is that they indulge the family members in introducing themselves with the patients. Moreover, a friendly approach is to be maintained during communication where dementia patients are allowed freedom of speech by the nurses (Tullo et al., 2018). The use of such technique would lead to create enhanced communication between nurses and dementia patients. Another communication technique to be used by nurses in framing communication with dementia patient is visual cues. The is because visual cues help to avoid the use of words and use pictures to interact information between individuals (D’Onofrio et al., 2017). In dementia patients, many face hardships with maintain proper speech or identify words to express their needs through communication (D’Onofrio et al., 2017). Thus, the use of visual cues would help in resolving the problem and ensure nurses make effective interaction with patients.

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The above discussion mentions the dementia patients due to hindered brain functioning develop incapability to form meaningful speech, remember facts and others which interferes with their communication ability. The communication with dementia by the nurses is important to understand the patient's needs and demands to develop car accordingly in delivering them support with satisfaction. The communication techniques to be used by nurses in framing interaction with dementia patients include speaking in a low voice tone, limiting distraction in the interactive environment, use of non-verbal communication, repetition of facts, use of visual cues and others.


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