The effectiveness of conversation in improving verbal communication of nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease was compared to exercise and a combination of both interventions. Fifty-five participants were randomly assigned to treatment group and raters were blinded. Treatment was given three times weekly for 30 minutes, for 16 weeks. Although all groups evidenced decline in the total number of words used as a group, the conversation-only subjects’ performance was significantly better in terms of the number of nonredundant units of information produced (p = .0433) and conciseness (p = .0101) using analysis of covariance controlling for baseline performance. Individual subjects’ change in performance was also examined. Active engagement in structured one-on-one conversation may improve relevance of communication in this population.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, conversation, exercise, communication, picture description