Date of Award

Fall 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Sciences & Disorders


The purpose of this study was to determine if individuals in the later stages of dementia could benefit from their caregivers' use of language components that would assist them in gaining access to their emotional memories that had been developed throughout a lifetime of experiences. Participants in the study included 10 long-term care residents with a diagnosis of moderate-to-late stage dementia, probable Alzheimer's disease, and who were vocally disruptive. Thirty caregivers who interacted with the residents also participated in the study. The caregivers' responses to the vocally disruptive individuals were categorized as statements or questions. The language forms of caregiver questions were categorized by question type (yes/no, open-ended, clarifications, repetitions, or multiple-choice) and content (emotional or non-emotional). Resident responses following the caregivers' questions were categorized as no change, increase, or decrease in level of disruptive vocalizations. Additional information was gathered through demographic profiles and two questionnaires completed by the caregivers. The results of this study indicated that (1) all types of questions with emotional references were more successful in decreasing the residents' disruptive vocalizations than questions with no emotional references and (2) yes/no questions were more effective than other types of questions in decreasing disruptive vocalizations. Future research should focus on training caregivers to increase the number of yes/no questions and emotionally referenced language to improve the individual with dementia's ability to successfully participate in communicative interactions.