Article  |   April 2012
Examining Success of Communication Strategies Used by Formal Caregivers Assisting Individuals With Alzheimer’s Disease During an Activity of Daily Living
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rozanne Wilson
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Elizabeth Rochon
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Alex Mihailidis
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Carol Leonard
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Correspondence to Elizabeth Rochon: elizabeth.rochon@utoronto.ca
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Julie Hengst
    Associate Editor: Julie Hengst×
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Professional Issues & Training / Language
Article   |   April 2012
Examining Success of Communication Strategies Used by Formal Caregivers Assisting Individuals With Alzheimer’s Disease During an Activity of Daily Living
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2012, Vol. 55, 328-341. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0206)
History: Received July 28, 2010 , Revised February 1, 2011 , Accepted July 25, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2012, Vol. 55, 328-341. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0206)
History: Received July 28, 2010; Revised February 1, 2011; Accepted July 25, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

Purpose: To examine how formal (i.e., employed) caregivers' use verbal and nonverbal communication strategies while assisting individuals with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease (AD) during the successful completion of an activity of daily living (ADL). Based on the literature, the authors hypothesized that caregivers' use of 1 proposition, closed-ended questions, and repetition would be of most benefit.

Method: Twelve caregiver–AD dyads participated in this observational study. Each dyad was videorecorded on 6 separate occasions while completing handwashing. Handwashing sessions were transcribed and systematically coded for the use of communication strategies during completion of the ADL.

Results: Caregiver–AD dyads successfully completed 90% of all handwashing sessions, and caregivers employed a variety of communication strategies. Consistent with our hypotheses, during successful task completion, caregivers most frequently provided individuals with AD with 1 direction or idea (i.e., proposition) at a time, closed-ended questions, and paraphrased repetition. Caregivers also frequently used encouraging comments and the resident’s name during the task; however, use of these strategies was not correlated to task success rate.

Conclusion: This study adds to the limited body of evidence supporting the use of specific communication strategies by caregivers assisting individuals with moderate to severe AD during successful completion of ADLs.

Acknowledgments
This project was supported, in part, by an operating grant funded by the American Alzheimer Association (ETAC program) and by a Young Investigator Grant from the Alzheimer Society of Canada, both awarded to the third author. This research was also supported by a Master and a Doctoral Research Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, awarded to the first author. We acknowledge the research support provided by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.
Portions of this project were presented at the 2007 Academy of Aphasia meeting in Washington, DC; the 2007 Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging and Technology (FICCDAT), Toronto, Ontario, Canada; the 2006 Cognitive Aging Conference in Atlanta, Georgia; and the 2006 Celebrating Innovations in Health Care Expo, Toronto.
We extend our greatest appreciation to the Seniors Health Centre, North York, Canada, and to all the individuals who participated in this research. We would also like to express our appreciation to Malcolm Binns, Jen Boger, Helen Ferley, and Chris Jokel for their assistance.
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