Carousel Conversation: Aspects of Family Roles and Topic Shift in Alzheimer’s Talk
Conversations with an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT), particularly a close relative, are sad because they are disconcerting, difficult, and often disorienting for the family caregiver. Caregiver and DAT relative often use different frames and different discourse rules. There can be humorous exchanges because the speakers’ frames don’t match and they expect different results, that is, they no longer share “family talk” in the same way. The DAT individual operates in a discourse sphere that is often disconnected from earlier family talk experiences. The son or daughter or spouse must try to locate that sphere, try to function in unclear frames, and learn to follow different, and even strange, rules in order to cooperate in the communicative process. It is like trying to sing a favorite song in a minor key.
KeywordsFamily Caregiver Discourse Context Topic Shift Funeral Home Role Switching
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