A conversation analytic study of patterns of overlapping talk in conversations between individuals with dementia and their frequent communication partners

Jessica Young, Christopher Lind, Willem Van Steenbrugge

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: Difficulty participating in conversation is commonly experienced by individuals with dementia, secondary to cognitive and language deficits. Frequent communication partners (FCPs), however, report being largely unaware of how to support their conversation partners with dementia during conversation. In particular, taking a turn appropriately may be difficult for either partner due to trouble predicting a partner's behaviour and, hence, difficulty with timing conversational turns appropriately, potentially resulting in overlapping talk. Aims: To investigate the patterns of overlapping talk in the interaction between individuals with dementia and their FCPs. Methods & Procedures: Three participants with moderate–severe dementia participated in conversation with an FCP. Ten minutes of ‘casual’ and ‘task-oriented’ conversation were audio- and video-recorded. Patterns of overlapping talk were investigated using conversation analytic methods. Outcomes & Results: Overlapping talk was a consistent feature of all three dyadic interactions during both social and task-oriented talk. All participants exhibited competitive and non-competitive forms of overlapping talk. The data reveal that FCPs commonly yielded their own turns when overlapped by a partner in order to create opportunities for their partners with dementia to communicate. Participants with dementia demonstrated some retained pragmatic abilities, both using continuers and yielding the floor to their partner when competitively overlapped in order to encourage a speaker to continue. Conclusions & Implications: These findings contribute to the understanding of the impact of dementia on the maintenance of sensitivity to the sequential aspects of everyday talk. From a clinical perspective, these findings can inform the training of FCPs about retained abilities and evidence-based support strategies, equipping them with knowledge and skills to structure and maintain fluent conversation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)745-756
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
    Volume51
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

    Keywords

    • communication
    • conversation analysis
    • dementia
    • overlapping talk
    • turn taking

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