The guiding hand will help you instil trust and guide or move a person with dementia.
- Shake the person’s hand.
- Gently slide your fingers upwards around their thumb.
- Move to their right side and place your spare arm around their back.
- You can then move and guide the person in a calm and gentle manner.
- The guiding hand technique can also be used to assist a person into a vehicle.
- When carrying out a search make all people assisting aware:
– That shouting the person’s name can make them feel threatened which could prevent them from making themselves known.
– When feeling threatened a person with dementia experiences tunnel vision and will therefore follow a path directly ahead of them. This can lead them into unexpected places such as sheds, alleyways, wooded areas, dense shrubbery or a ditch.
- Once person is found follow general advice, as the right approach is critical in calming the person.
- Adopt a friendly and interesting tone when calling their name. E.g. ‘Ruby come and see this.’
It’s possible that a person may seek out an old address thinking they still live there. If this happens:
- Once the person is calm find out if they have any identification.
- Avoid transporting them in a police vehicle that has caging, as this is likely to cause distress and lead to potential injury.
If a person locks themselves in their house and won’t allow anyone in:
- Be aware that shouting the person’s name can frighten them and so adopt a calm tone.
- Gain general information about the person from a family member/neighbour – name, interests, what they did for a job.
- Call through the letterbox using a piece of the information to calm them down and entice them to unlock the door. E.g. If Fred loved dogs, say “Fred would you give me some advice about my dog at home, he’s being really naughty.”
- When they open the door use the general advice.
A person with dementia may believe that a relative is missing but they may have moved away or died:
- The individual is likely to be feeling very emotional.
- Use general advice to calm them.
- If the individual makes reference to a relative/spouse who is dead do not remind them that they have died. As they do not remember this, they are likely to become much more anxious and upset if given this information – it will be like they have learnt they have died for the first time. Instead encourage conversation about the relative using the words “Tell me about……..”
- When the person appears settled Emergency Personnel can find an appropriate time to leave.
- There may be a need to contact the family or social services.