Picture Card Communication for Individuals With Dementia


As dementia patients decline, their ability to communicate using words decreases. Individuals become aphasic or mute and cannot communicate basic wants. Ineffective ways of communicating leads to challenging behaviors, caregiver depression, and isolated patients.

IMG_3764 (1)Picture or text reminders are frequently used in cognitive rehabilitation or during reminiscence activities. Pictures can be used as an augmentative communication system for individuals with dementia.

Patients learn to exchange picture cards for desired items. Caregivers use differential reinforcement and a series of prompting strategies to teach patients to use cards to answers questions, interact with others, or share feelings with pictures.

These colorful cards are individualized, laminated for repeated use, and stored in a binder or card case. Picture cards are a low tech, low price intervention that is proven to increase communication and activity engagement. Improved communication skills are also associated with decreased challenging behaviors – a common goal in behavioral intervention plans.

We all value the moments when we can interact with a vanishing mind. Give your clients or loved ones the tools they will need to effectively communicate.

Where to Buy Communication Cards

Or, make your own communication cards!

Note: Dr. Trahan conducted research to determine the feasibility of teaching older adults with dementia to communicate using picture cards. For more information, visit her Rockethub campaign site. Publication of this research is in press and will be reviewed on ABCDementia in a future post.

Note: Picture communication training may not work with all individuals. If your patient or loved one is in this group, picture cards are best used as a reminiscing activity.

Read a review on on picture communication training and ABA