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“Where Is My Wife and When Am I Going Home?” The Challenge of Communicating with Persons with Dementia

Bourgeois, Michelle S. PhD, CCC-SLP

Feature Topic: Communication

Communicating with persons with dementia presents a variety of challenges to professionals and family alike. This article describes the communicative strengths and deficits of persons with dementia as the disease progresses, provides a memory systems–based explanation for the range of challenging behaviors, and suggests multiple intervention techniques. Communication guidelines are offered to enhance the quality of life of those whose lives are affected by diseases that result in disordered memory.

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Disorders, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. She conducts clinical research to develop and evaluate interventions for persons with dementia and their caregivers. Her research is funded by the Alzheimer's Association, National Institute on Aging, and the State of Florida.

Address correspondence to: Michelle S. Bourgeois, PhD, CCC/SLP, Associate Professor, Communications Disorders, Florida State University, 302 Regional Rehabilitation Center, Tallahassee FL 32306–1200. Telephone: 350/644–6639, E-mail:

The preparation of this article was supported by NIA grant, R01 AG17908

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.