A study by researchers at the University of St Andrews have found people with advanced dementia could be helped to interact through a non-verbal communication technique known as ‘Adaptive Interaction’.

Published in the journal PLOS One (Public Library of Science), the new research found Adaptive Interaction, which includes reciprocating the movements and vocalisations of those with advanced dementia, could help improve communication and reduce isolation for people who have lost their ability to talk.

Adaptive Interaction encourages caregivers to communicate by using the non-verbal “language” that is unique to each individual with dementia such as eye gaze, expressing emotion and various movements.

The new study showed positive responses from individuals with dementia to the “behaviour matching” technique, who then demonstrated increased communicative behaviours.

Dr Maggie Ellis of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews, said: “We have seen amazing results when using each individual’s non-verbal language – people laughing when they didn’t before, showing more interest and increasing the physical contact they have with those around them.

“Although they cannot speak, these people are still there, and they are left with a set of fundamental communication skills that we can use to communicate with them.”