Elizabeth Parks and Bentley Porterfield-Finn’s article published in Communication & Medicine
Assistant Professor Elizabeth Parks and recent MA in Communication Studies graduate Bentley Porterfield-Finn have published the essay “Listening skills in dementia care: Cultivating a more inclusive conceptualization of active listening verbal processes” in Communication & Medicine: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Healthcare, Ethics and Society.
Developing strategies to provide effective supportive messages for people with dementia that also promote the wellbeing of active listeners is essential for healthy caregiver–care-recipient relationships. We work to identify, critique and explore the pragmatics of language patterns between caregiving listeners and care-recipient listeners who experience dementia, with a focus on cultivating a more inclusive conceptualization of active listening verbal behaviors. Through content analysis of 66 conversations in the Alzheimer’s and dementia context utilizing an adapted Active Listening Observation Scale (ALOS), our findings create a baseline from which to explore listening behaviors and the wellbeing of both caregivers and care-recipients. The results point to caregivers exhibiting higher active listening behaviors than care-recipients on every measure, and that across the duration of the conversation caregivers’ active listening on a global level decreases and care-recipients’ active listening increases. Ultimately, we hope that this research will decrease negative impacts on caregivers of the caregiving role, by addressing communication challenges; increase the agency and voice of care-recipients as listeners who contribute to communication events; create more inclusive conceptualizations of active listening verbal processes; and improve the quality of active listening in Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving contexts.