Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist May 2013 Contents 58
Australian Pharmacist May 2013 I © Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
SUPPORTING PHARMACY PRACTICE
you know! It would be nice to have you come
to visit Buddy again.’
The art of considerate
Each individual with dementia is different
and may have different communication
needs. Some may have additional hearing
or visual problems or English may not be
their first language.9
If you do not understand what has been
said by the person with dementia, you
can ask them to repeat it. Sometimes
conversing with someone with Alzheimer’s
is not necessarily about understanding, it is
about showing care, concern and inclusion,
especially with severe disease.9 Similarly,
consider if it is necessary to correct
the validity of the person’s statements
which may include wrong information.
If this relates to important medicines
advice, it may be important – but do not
correct for the sake of it! Ensuring a carer
understands your advice will be very
important in these circumstances.
Providing timely, professional
practical advice in difficult situations
In addition to having an awareness
of the importance of the challenges
in communication for people with
dementia, pharmacists have the added
responsibility of ensuring the medication
safety – especially for those living alone
with minimal support or assistance.
Sometimes it will be necessary to
intervene or advise a GP where there are
safety concerns regarding medication
management. Tactful, timely discussions
with patients and carers regarding the
introduction of schedules, memory aids,
dose administrations aids and support
services all fall within the pharmacist’s
scope of practice in this area. As one of
the most accessible and visited healthcare
professionals, pharmacists are ideally
placed to travel the often difficult journey
with the person with dementia and their
carers. We need to continue to build on the
trust we have within our communities as an
accessible, affordable provider of primary
health care. By listening to our customers
and building on our skill base we can
ensure we continue to be part of the
solution, helping families and providing
professional, sensitive care for loved ones
affected by this devastating disease.
1. 1 . Dementia across Australia: 2011–2050. A report prepared by
Deloitte Access Economics for Fight Alzheimer’s Protect Australia.
9 Sep 2011. At: www.fightdementia.org.au/common/files/
2. 2 . Retail Pharmacy – Ready to take its medicine. Dec 2011.
Korda Mentha 333 Publication 11-03 . At: www.kordamentha.
com/docs/publications/publication-11 -03 -retail-pharmacy.
3. 3 . Communication: Caring for someone with dementia.
Fact Sheet 1. At: www.fightdementia.org.au/common/files/
4. 4 . Hachinski V. Shifts in thinking about dementia. JAMA
5. 5 . Better Health Channel. Dementia communication issues. Fact
Sheet. At: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/
6. 6 . Therapies and communication: Caring for someone with
dementia. Fact Sheet 2. At: www.fightdementia.org.au/common/
7. 7 . Hairon N. Improving communication skills in care of those with
dementia. NT Clinical 2008;104(23):19–20.
8. 8 . Kennard C. Talking to people with dementia. At: http://
9. 9 . Anderson C. Communicating with patients with dementia: what
you need to think about. PJ Online 9 May 2012. At: www.pjonline.
Losing the ability to communicate can
be frustrating and difficult for people
with dementia, their families and carers.
Positive communication can help a person
with dementia maintain their dignity
and self-esteem. A caring attitude, use of
appropriate body language and the right
environment are all important aspects of
1. Listen carefully to the person.
2. Speak clearly to the person.
3. Make sure you have his or her full
attention before you speak.
4. Think about how things appear in the
reality of the person with dementia.
5. Consider whether any other factors
(e.g. pain) are affecting communication.
6. Where appropriate, use physical contact
to reassure the person.
7. Show respect and patience.
8. Be flexible and allow plenty of time for
1. When talking to people with
dementia it is important to:
a) speak simply, slowly and loudly.
b) speak in a calm, reassuring,
c) correct any wrong information in a
polite, gentle, reassuring manner.
d) adopt a neutral approach to avoid
2. When considering all aspects of
communication, it is recognised
a) body language (facial expression,
posture and gestures) contributes 38%.
b) tone and pitch of our voice have
little bearing on how information is
c) words contribute less than 10%.
d) a neutral approach reduces conflicting
3. Once a person has been diagnosed
with cognitive impairment it is
a) send a message to their next of
kin, requesting a carer, or power of
attorney be present at all times when
medicines education or advice is
b) tailor communication needs to
each individual, monitor disease
progression and respond tactfully and
respectfully where further intervention
(aids or support) is needed.
c) implement dose administration aids
immediately, as the person can no
longer be relied upon to manage their
d) provide an abundance of written
information on medications since
reading skills are rarely impaired.
4. When counselling people with
a) always counsel in a well-lit, quieter
part of the pharmacy to enhance
non-verbal cues and reduce
interference of background noise.
b) finish each session with a series of
questions, or a short test to check your
message has been understood.
c) direct your attention specifically to
the carer, since they are the ones who
will be responsible for the medicines
d) always counsel in a quiet, dimly-lit
counselling room to reduce the
likelihood of arousing aggression.
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