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Keeping the conversation going: How progressivity is prioritised in co-remembering talk between couples impacted by dementia

Slocombe, Felicity; Peel, Elizabeth; Pilnick, Alison; Albert, Saul


Felicity Slocombe

Elizabeth Peel

Professor of Language, medicine and Society

Saul Albert


This article explores how partners keep the conversation going with people living with dementia (PLWD) when speaking about shared memories. Remembering is important for PLWD and their families. Indeed, memory loss is often equated with identity loss. In conversation, references to shared past events (co-rememberings) can occasion interactional trouble if memories cannot be mutually recalled. This article analyses partners’ interactional practices that enable progressivity in conversations about shared memories with a PLWD. In previous research, both informal and formal carers have reported that they can find interacting with PLWD difficult. Identifying practices used by partners is one way to begin addressing those difficulties. Analytical findings are based on over 26 hours of video data from domestic settings where partners have recorded their interactions with their spouse/close friend who is living with dementia. The focus is on 14 sequences of conversation about shared memories. We show how particular practices (candidate answers, tag questions and single-party memory of a shared event) structure the interaction to facilitate conversational progression. When partners facilitate conversational progressivity, PLWD are less likely to experience stalls in conversation. Our findings suggest the actual recall of memory is less relevant than the sense of shared connection resulting from the conversational activity of co-remembering, aiding maintenance of individual and shared identities. These findings have relevance for wider care settings.


Slocombe, F., Peel, E., Pilnick, A., & Albert, S. (2022). Keeping the conversation going: How progressivity is prioritised in co-remembering talk between couples impacted by dementia. Health,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 13, 2022
Publication Date Oct 13, 2022
Deposit Date Oct 19, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 20, 2022
Journal Health (United Kingdom)
Print ISSN 1949-4998
Electronic ISSN 1461-7196
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Health (social science)
Public URL
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