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Double celebration for dementia researcher

24 August 2021

Latest book offers practical everyday solutions to overcome communication difficulties

Professor Alison Wray in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy’s Centre for Language and Communication Research has cause for double celebration this month.

Just as her latest book, Why Dementia Makes Communication Difficult: A Guide to Better Outcomes hits the shelves, her 2020 work, The Dynamics of Dementia Communication has scooped a national award.

In the UK alone, around 850,000 people have some form of dementia, with this figure on the rise.

The Dynamics of Dementia Communication explores how dementia impacts on communication. She argues that the main problem is not caused by deficits in language as such, but the way that impairments to memory and processing undermine a person’s ability to track the context within which conversations operate.

‘These difficulties mean that a person with dementia is likely to misjudge what to say, when and how,’ explains Professor Wray.

The book, published by Oxford University Press, was one of five shortlisted for the annual book prize of the British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Reviewers for the distinguished prize had high praise for the volume:

‘This is an impressive volume which constructs a very wide-ranging umbrella framework for understanding dementia communication, an area of increasing importance in our society. The book presents some very big and bold questions about how best to communicate with people living with dementia from the very start, and as the work proceeds, these questions are answered in a detailed and meticulous way.’

Her new book Why Dementia Makes Communication Difficult: A Guide to Better Outcomes presents the ideas of her 2020 work for a lay audience, offering practical solutions for people with dementia, their families and professional carers as well as people who occasionally encounter dementia through their work or socialising, such as hairdressers, postal delivery workers, taxi drivers, shopkeepers and neighbours.

Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Why Dementia Makes Communication Difficult: A Guide to Better Outcomes is available now.

Professor Alison Wray has spent a decade studying the social and emotional impact of dementia and its onward effect on communication. Her detailed understanding of the causes of communication breakdowns in the dementia context is being used to formulate training and advice for people around the world, such as acclaimed explanatory animated videos voiced by dementia ambassador Sir Tony Robinson.

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