University of St Andrews

A new technique to help dementia patients communicate

Dr Maggie Ellis from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews has spent decades helping the millions of people who suffer from dementia. 

In 2017, she developed a new non-verbal communication technique known as Adaptive Interaction to help people with advanced dementia to communicate. The technique includes reciprocating the movements and vocalisations of sufferers to facilitate connection and bring comfort to those who have lost much of their ability to produce and understand speech. 

Dr Ellis has reported very positives results from using this technique, with people laughing when they did not before, showing more interest and increasing the physical contact they have with those around them. 

Dr Ellis said: “Although they cannot speak, these people are still there, and they are left with a set of fundamental communication skills that we can use to communicate with them.”

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