Communication With Alzheimer Patients’ Families Questioned

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A new study published on November 13 in the online Journal of Applied Communication Research found that families of Alzheimer’s patients may not always be getting accurate information from nurses and other health care workers at Alzheimer’s care facilities. The study found that some nurses struggle with honesty because of the difficult truth about Alzheimer’s. Nurses also reportedly struggled with how much information to provide to family members who do not have power of attorney but who want detailed information about a patient’s condition or care. It can be difficult to provide useful information without violating health care information privacy laws such as HIPAA.

The study included information from 15 registered nurses, 13 care assistants (or nurse aides), and four licensed practical nurses that worked at skilled nursing or assisted living facilities in four states. 

Researchers concluded that nurses and other care providers have communication problems with families of Alzheimer’s patients that do not always exist for other types of patients. Accordingly, researchers suggest that more training should be provided to nurses and other care givers in this regard. Some techniques that could be used in training may be how to develop clear care expectations with families, how to make caregiving more visible, and how to encourage family members to come visit their loved ones in Alzheimer’s facilities. 

Our Louisville nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys hope that the results of this study lead to better communication, less ambiguity, and ultimately better safety and prevention of abuse and neglect for Alzheimer’s patients in Kentucky nursing homes.

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