Effects of Alzheimers dementia on conversational ability: a case study

  • S.B. Makoni Department of English, University of Cape Town


This paper reports on a case study of the effects of dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT) on three aspects of conversational ability: turn-taking, fluency and coherence. Three conversations held over a period of 12 months with a bilingual DAT sufferer are analyzed. The results show that some aspects of conversational ability, such as turn-taking, are vulnerable to dementia and show no sign of potential recovery, unlike changes in fluency. The fluency of the subject's language use initially declined but subsequently improved somewhat. Her capacity to respond coherently systematically broke down and the responses became increasingly aberrant. The paper also highlights the problems of including conversational abilities as a separate, additional diagnostic measure of DAT.


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