Communicating with individuals with Alzheimer's disease: examination of recommended strategies

Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 1997 Oct;11(5):249-56. doi: 10.1016/s0883-9417(97)80015-5.


Meaningful conversation with individuals in the later stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been considered difficult if not impossible. Limiting communication to simple concrete subjects and closed-ended questions is frequently recommended. Thirty-five 30 minute conversations with individuals with advanced AD (mean Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE] = 10) were transcribed and the interactions examined. No significant differences in length or relevance of response by type of question was found indicating that subjects were able to respond to open-ended questions. Use of broad opening statements or questions, establishing commonalities, speaking as equals, and sharing of self-facilitated expression of feeling; recognizing themes with salience for the individual helped to maintain the discussion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Communication*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods*
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Methodology Research