Engaging and Communicating with People Who Have Dementia

Finding and Using Their Strengths

By Eileen Eisner, M.Ed., CCC-SLP

ISBN 978-1-938870-03-3
232 pages
7 x 10 papercover
© 2013

(3 customer reviews)


Keep people with dementia fully engaged in daily life and help them maximize remaining functional skills by tapping into their innate abilities and interests. Engaging and Communicating with People Who Have Dementia is a trove of advice on how to identify people’s strengths and preferences and then use this knowledge to improve activity programming, communication, and functional independence.

Individualizing activities, interactions, or interventions at any moment of the day is made easy with the many helpful suggestions offered throughout the pages of this innovative guide. Here are keys to successfully choosing leisure activities for individuals that emphasize their previous interests and talents as well as current capabilities.

Based on the principles of multiple intelligences, this resource provides handy assessment forms and instructive explanations and examples to help uncover and then build on each person’s unique abilities. Abundant activity ideas are showcased for each type of intelligence—linguistic, logical, visual, tactile, auditory, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic—plus strategies for adapting them as a person’s abilities decline.

Features that make this resource especially useful for enriching person-centered programming include

  • advice on available technologies that enhance communication, promote independence, and stimulate cognition
  • guidelines for matching activities to early, middle, and late stages of dementia
  • valuable assessment tools for use by staff, family, and the individual
  • downloadable, reusable forms

Activity professionals, nursing staff, speech-language pathologists, and even family caregivers can help maintain meaningful and enjoyable interactions with an adult diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease using this strength-based approach.

Includes these valuable assessment and intervention tools:

  • Informal Geriatric Strength-Based Inventory
  • Caregiver Questionnaire and Checklist
  • Personal Preferences Inventory
  • Strength-Based Summary Form
  • Dementia Care Staff Guide
  • Memory Loss Caregiver Guide
  • SIMPLE (Simplified Inventory of Multiple Potential and Leisure Engagement)

About the Author and Contributors


  1. Introduction to Strength-Based Programming
  2. Assessing the Potential of Adults with Cognitive and Memory Loss
  3. Strength-Based Interventions
  4. Modifying Strength-Based Activities to Match the Progression of Dementia
    By Michelle S. Bourgeois
  5. New Roles for Technology in Strength-Based Interventions
    By Joan L. Green
  6. Practical Tips for Enhancing Communication with Adults with Dementia
  • Appendix A: Identifying the Behaviors of Individuals with Cognitive Impairment
  • Appendix B: Recommended Readings for Caregivers and Professionals
  • Appendix C: Recommended Readings about Alzheimer’s Disease for Children and Adolescents
  • Appendix D: Alzheimer’s Disease Resources


Engaging and Communicating … by on Scribd

Unidentifiable person icon holder vector illustrationEileen Eisner, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience. She specializes in communication disorders related to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as language-learning disorders in school-age children.

In addition to Engaging and Communicating with People Who Have Dementia, Eisner is the author of Merging Language Intervention with Classroom Practices: A Guide for the Speech-Language Pathologst (1998), and Can Do Activities for Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease: Strength-Based Communication and Programming (2001). She served as both the state and national meetings of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association as well as the Alzheimer’s Association.

A seasoned consultant, Eisner has written professional articles on practical intervention strategies for adults who have neurodegenerative dementias and also provides staff training sessions on the strategies.

3 reviews for Engaging and Communicating with People Who Have Dementia

  1. admin

    “Drawing on the theory of multiple intelligences, Eileen Eisner has written a sensitive and valuable guide to assessment and treatment of individuals and groups in three stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Ready for use today, this work will gain in value as the disease becomes better understood and as new interventions materialize.”
    —Howard Gardner, Ph.D., John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

  2. admin

    “Ms. Eisner has done a great job of providing the communicative disorders professionals with tools and techniques to assess the person with dementia in a person-centered way, with very complete lists of suggestions for intervention strategies for staff.”
    —Beth Meyer-Arnold, RN, MS

  3. admin

    “The assessment tools included [in this book] allow for the identification of remaining abilities as the person progresses through the course of the disease. There are tools for both the professional and the family or caregivers. The family/caregiver tool is unique to this publication and a true breakthrough in achieving success oriented activities in the private home. Utilizing the tools provided allows for a better quality of life where people can continue to feel good about themselves despite the difficulties they face. I highly recommend this book for any one working with, caring for or living with someone who has any form of dementia. It is straight forward and easy to use. It will certainly provide the opportunity for many more positive and cherished moments.”
    —Susan E. Harris, BA, AT, CRA, ADC, LNHA Chief Executive Officer, The Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living

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All forms found in Engaging and Communicating with People Who Have Dementia: Finding and Using Their Strengths are offered as downloadable resources to purchasers of the book. These valuable assessment and intervention tools will assist in improving your activity programming and can be used by staff, family, and the individual.

The following are available for download with purchase of the book:

  • Informal Geriatric Strength-Based Inventory
  • Caregiver Questionnaire and Checklist
  • Personal Preferences Inventory
  • Strength-Based Summary Sheet
  • SIMPLE (Simplified Inventory of Multiple Potential and Leisure Engagement)
  • Dementia Care Staff Guide
  • Memory Loss Caregiver Guide