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Filling in memory gaps through emotional communication: promising pathways in caring for persons with dementia.

Dulmen, S. van, Smits, L., Eide, H. Filling in memory gaps through emotional communication: promising pathways in caring for persons with dementia. Patient Education and Counseling: 2017, 100(11), 2121-2124
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Objective
To explore in what way emotional communication can enhance the memory of people with (different types of) dementia.

Methods
Relevant studies published after 2000 were searched using the terms: dementia, positive, words, communication, recall, and memory. Papers were included that reported results of studies with people with dementia that investigated memory effects of communication with either an emotionally valent content or context.

Results
Twelve papers grouped under four prevailing themes (pictures, facial emotions, stories and words) are described. The studies provide mixed results: in some studies negative emotional information enhances memory in older people with dementia, in other studies positive emotional information is helpful or hardly any effect is found.

Conclusion
Emotional communication seems to enhance memory in people with dementia. None of the studies described focused on the association between personally relevant, emotionally valent information and memory, so further research is needed.

Practice implications
Caregivers in dementia care should realize that:
(1) the information they provide might carry an emotional valence;
(2) this valence might influence the extent to which people with dementia remember information. (aut. ref.)