When a person has dementia different parts of their brain can be affected which can lead to a range of unusual behaviours. Over time their ability to reason will diminish, as will their levels of understanding. Therefore when responding to an individual with the disease you need to take this into account. Be aware that in an emergency situation the person is likely to be highly anxious, disorientated and confused. It doesn’t take much to make a situation worse and lead to the individual becoming even more scared, frightened and even aggressive. That’s why it’s important to try and understand how the person is feeling at this time. Our approach in this Website concentrates on understanding the feelings of the person with dementia during the crisis and suggests ways to ease the situation. Do be aware however, that everyone is unique and also the way dementia affects each individual is different. Therefore our advice is generalised.

Get it right and you can calm the situation and make the person feel more secure and at ease.




The material and information contained in this Website is provided without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy. It is provided as an information resource only, and it is not to be relied on for any legal, diagnostic or treatment purposes.

This Website was created by Dignity in Dementia – for more information visit: www.dignityindementia.org

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General Advice

In an emergency situation an individual living with dementia is likely to be anxious and disorientated.

  • Stop, look and listen and assess the situation.
  • Approach slowly from the front, leaving a 1 metre space between yourself and the person.
  • Be mindful that as dementia progresses vision can become significantly impaired so you need to get into their visual field. For those without hearing loss, hearing can be accentuated so shouting and loud noises can be frightening.
  • Get to their level to make eye contact.
  • Say hello and use their name if known.
  • Introduce yourself in a warm and friendly manner. Use a calm tone.
  • People with dementia understand visual cues rather than words. Therefore use visual cues to help them understand.