A 10-week intervention to support couples affected by dementia shows coaching and role-playing can help improve communication between patient and caregiver.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing designed Caring About Relationships and Emotions to increase facilitative communication in the caregiver and sociable communication in the care receiver.

The relationship focused intervention also aimed to reduce both disabling and unsociable behavior.

“Caregivers are not experts in communicating with people with dementia. Sometimes they choose strategies they think are helpful, but may be ineffective,” said Christine L. Williams, DNSc, principal investigator of the study and a professor in FAU’s College of Nursing.

Results published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry show those receiving care improved more than the caregivers following the intervention. Care receivers had statistically significant improvement in their verbal and non-verbal social communication. They were more interested and engaged, maintained eye contact and responded to questions.