Dementia at the End of Life and Family Partners: A Symbolic Interactionist Perspective on Communication




Johnson, Christopher
Kelch, Jordan
Johnson, Roxanna

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute


People with dementia are not dying; they are experiencing changes in the brain. This paper utilizes a symbolic interaction theoretical perspective to outline communicative alternatives to polypharmacy. There is a growing interest in sociological interventions to untangle the "disordered discourses" associated with dementia. Such practices challenge common stigmas attached to dementia as an "ongoing funeral" or "death certificate." Changing the expectations, attitudes and communication patterns of family care partners can positively impact them and the person living with dementia at the end of life. This paper delineates multiple non-verbal communication interventions (e.g., the trip back in time, dementia citizenship and sensory engagement modalities) to explore techniques to engage persons with advanced dementia.



end of life, family care partners, persons living with dementia, symbolic interaction, communication


Johnson, C., Kelch, J., & Johnson, R. (2017). Dementia at the end of life and family partners: A symbolic interactionist perspective on communication. Behavioral Sciences, 7(3): 42.


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