The Use of ‘Talking Mats’ by Persons with Alzheimer in the Netherlands: Increasing Shared Decision-Making by Using a Low-Tech Communication Aid

Corinna Caroline Reitz, Ruth Dalemans


Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most frequent form of dementia. Frequently decisions are made for the persons with AD because of problems with communication. To avoid this, the low-tech communication aid Talking Mats (TM) can be used.

 Aim: The study was three folded: 1) to get insight in the effect of TM on shared decisions in communication with people with AD; 2) to study if TM affects the use of language by people with AD in conversation; 3) to get insight in the usability of the Dutch version of TM for persons with AD and their relatives.

Methods: After TM was translated from English into Dutch, a study following a cross-over design took place. TM was used in communication between persons with AD and a relative (n=6). Shared decisions were evaluated by using the observation list OPTION. The language used by the participants with AD was analyzed.  Semi-structured interviews took place.

Results: Shared decisions significantly increased. There was no effect of TM on the frequency of the six analyzed language aspects.

Conclusion: The Dutch version of TM is an efficient communication aid which supports the process of shared decisions between persons with AD and their relatives. 

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