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.
If the person has phoned for assistance as they believe that some of their property has been stolen:
- Be mindful that the person may have forgotten that they phoned for assistance. If this is the case and they are happy make apologies and leave.
- If the person maintains their property is missing – ask if you can look around. Be aware that a recent memory can get confused with a past memory causing the person to believe that a theft has taken place.
- If you locate the missing item show it to them and hopefully they will be satisfied.
- If you do not find it (some people with dementia put items somewhere safe and forget where they’ve put them) Emergency Service Personnel may need to contact a family member to inform of the situation and gain their support.
- Follow general advice when dealing with the person.
A person with dementia may see or think something and act immediately without the normal controls that mould our accepted behaviour. E.g. they may feel hot and remove their clothes or see someone who reminds them of a person they dislike and so are rude to them.
- Follow general advice to gain their trust.
- Once trust is gained say, “I’m gasping for a cup of tea, I bet you’d like one too. As soon as you’ve got your clothes back on we can go and find one together.”