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Multilingual Interaction and Dementia

Multilingual Interaction and Dementia

Charlotta Plejert | Camilla Lindholm | Dr. Robert W. Schrauf



This book brings together international, linguistic research with a focus on interaction in multilingual encounters involving people with dementia in care and healthcare settings. The methodologies used (Conversation Analysis, Ethnography and Discursive Constructionism) capture practices on the micro-level, revealing how very subtle details may be of critical importance for the everyday well-being of participants with dementia, particularly in settings and contexts where there is a lack of a common verbal language of interlocutors, or where language abilities have been lost as a result of dementia. Chapters analyse the practices and actions employed by interlocutors to facilitate mutual understanding, enhance high-quality social relations and assure optimal care and treatment, in spite of language and cognitive difficulties, with an emphasis put on the participants’ remaining capacities, and what can be achieved between people with dementia and their interlocutors in a collaborative fashion. This book goes beyond the study of two-party communication to address multiparty and group interactions which are common in residential care and other healthcare settings and will be of interest to professionals and policy makers as well as to medical sciences and linguistics researchers and students.

This sparkling collection highlights the contribution of interactional research on dementia, revealing the complex interplay between the person with dementia and the people around them – staff, family and friends. The multilingual focus is a welcome acknowledgement that we live and conduct our affairs – in sickness and health – in a world of overlapping languages and cultures.

Charlotta Plejert is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Culture and Communication, and a researcher at Center for Dementia Research (CEDER) at Linköping University, Sweden. Her research interests include Conversation Analysis, communicative disabilities in children and adults, and second language interaction and acquisition.

Camilla Lindholm is Acting Professor at the Department of Finnish Language, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her main research areas are interaction in institutional settings, and asymmetric interaction involving participants with communication impairment.

Robert W. Schrauf is Professor and Head of the Department of Applied Linguistics at the Pennsylvania State University. He conducts empirical research on language, ethnicity and Alzheimer’s disease, and methodological research on the use of mixed methods for making cross-cultural comparisons.

This volume constitutes a milestone in putting the multilingual challenge in dementia care on the agenda. Through in-depth analyses of actual encounters involving persons with dementia, it highlights both the nature of the challenges involved in these complex communicative situations, and conversational practices that are shown to be effective in overcoming these challenges.
This exciting collection significantly furthers our understanding of the challenges and opportunities of having more than one language as a resource for communication and care in the dementia context. It offers important new insights into the risks of over-simplifying the experience of a multilingual person with dementia and/or care-giver, and demonstrates the importance of fully accommodating people’s multilingual skills and needs.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
Contributors vii
Acknowledgements xiii
Foreword xv
1 Multilingual Interaction and Dementia 1
2 Ageing as a Swedish-speaking Finn: Positioning and Language Choice at a Nursing Home 23
3 ‘Fear nó Bean, a Man or a Woman?’ Bilingual Encounters in Residential Eldercare in Ireland 52
4 Epistemic Negotiations in Interpreter-mediated Dementia Evaluations: The Cooperative Role of Patients’ Relatives 74
5 Creating Opportunities for Residents to Engage in Social Exchange: Brokering in Multilingual Residential Care Settings 103
6 Verbal and Nonverbal Turn-taking Actions of Care Staff and Residents in Linguistically Diverse Long-term Care Settings 133
7 Accommodation Practices in Multilingual Encounters in Swedish Residential Care 148
8 Training in Clinical Assessment: Proxying, Translating and Voice-over as Discursive Devices 175
9 Challenges and Experiences in Training Multilingual, International Direct Care Workers in Dementia Care in the United States 206
10 Multilingual Interaction and Dementia: Future Directions for Research and Practice 230
Index 241