Speech language therapy facilitates communication between persons with dementia and their loves ones

Friday 14 April 2023, 12:30 pm
M.W.L.J. Olthof-Nefkens MSc.
prof. dr. M.W.G. Nijhuis-van der Sanden
dr. B.J.M. de Swart, dr. J.G. Kalf, dr. E.W.C. Derksen

Dementia is a progressive brain disease. In addition to memory problems, people with dementia often have trouble finding the right words or understanding others, frequently from the onset of the disease. As a result, conversations proceed differently from how they used to. These communication problems cause misunderstandings and stress for everyone involved. Frieda Debets, speech language therapist at the Radboud university medical center, therefore developed “Com-mens”: a personalized treatment of six times an hour to improve communication between community-dwelling people with dementia and their loved ones. Participants learn, among other things, what consequences dementia has for communication skills. This thesis shows that Com-mens was valued by the participants, because of knowledge, insights and exercises they experienced more peace and less frustration in conversations, regardless of the type of dementia. Com-mens contributes to maintaining respectful and positive communication. Training courses to train speech language therapists in this method will start in April.

Mariëlle Olthof-Nefkens (1984) obtained her Master's degree in Social Psychology at the Radboud University in 2008 and her Bachelor’s degree in Speech language therapy in 2009, after which she worked as a speech language therapist in elderly care. In 2013 she started her PhD research at the Department of Rehabilitation (Radboudumc). Currently, she works as a speech language therapist and science practitioner at zorggroep Maas & Waal.