Conversational Repair by Individuals With Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type Conversational repair was examined in videotaped samples of spontaneous mealtime talk of 6 normal elderly adults, 5 subjects with early stage dementia of the Alzheimer's type (EDAT) and 5 subjects with middle stage DAT (MDAT) with a family member who acted as a conversational partner. The overall percentage of utterances ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 1996
Conversational Repair by Individuals With Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • J. B. Orange
    Department of Communicative Disorders University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, Canada
  • Rosemary B. Lubinski
    Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo
  • D. Jeffery Higginbotham
    Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Contact author: J.B. Orange, Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Western Ontario, Elborn College, London Ontario, Canada, N6G 1H1.
    Contact author: J.B. Orange, Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Western Ontario, Elborn College, London Ontario, Canada, N6G 1H1.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Normal Language Processing / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 1996
Conversational Repair by Individuals With Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1996, Vol. 39, 881-895. doi:10.1044/jshr.3904.881
History: Received February 3, 1995 , Accepted March 5, 1996
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 1996, Vol. 39, 881-895. doi:10.1044/jshr.3904.881
History: Received February 3, 1995; Accepted March 5, 1996

Conversational repair was examined in videotaped samples of spontaneous mealtime talk of 6 normal elderly adults, 5 subjects with early stage dementia of the Alzheimer's type (EDAT) and 5 subjects with middle stage DAT (MDAT) with a family member who acted as a conversational partner. The overall percentage of utterances involved in communication breakdown and repair and the specific proportions of utterances related to conversation problems, signals identifying problems, and repairs, were evaluated. Using the normal dyads as a control group, results showed the differential effects of DAT onset and progression on the conversational repair behavior of both subjects with DAT and their conversational partner. The percentage of conversation involved in repair was significantly higher for MDAT versus control and EDAT dyads. Despite the increase of conversational troubles with DAT onset and progression, the difficulties were repaired successfully the majority of the time. Subjects with EDAT produced more requests for repair than did their conversational partners. However, conversational partners of EDAT subjects used more elaboration repairs than did EDAT subjects. The opposite pattern was observed in the MDAT group where subjects with MDAT created and repaired more conversational problems than did their conversational partner. MDAT subjects produced more discourse trouble sources than did EDAT subjects. It was also observed that MDAT subjects and conversational partners frequently used nonspecific terms to signal misunderstandings. The findings have important implications for developing family caregiver communication enhancement strategies that are specific to the clinical stage of DAT.

Acknowledgments
This research was conducted while the first author was at The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The advice and guidance of Arthur Cryns, Willie Molloy, Ellen Ryan, Wenfan Yan, and Jen Rauck are gratefully acknowledged. The authors would also like to thank Richard Schwartz, Cynthia Thompson, and two anonymous editorial consultants for their detailed reviews. This research was supported in part by grants from the GSA/Mark Diamond Research Fund at SUNY Buffalo and the Alzheimer Association of Ontario.
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