Taking action to help those living with dementia

When Mark Shone, Community Safety Manager at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, became a Dementia Friend at work he thought it would give him a better understanding of some of the vulnerabilities they need to take into account when undertaking home safety checks and other fire prevention work. What he didn’t expect was to draw on that learning outside of work:

‘I was enjoying a Sunday afternoon film when there was a knock at my front door. Expecting it to be an electoral canvasser, I reluctantly answered but instead found an elderly lady, clearly very cold and very confused. She said she was looking for a particular street, as her brother lived there. Being local I knew instantly that street didn’t even exist in Chester so asked her what her name was and where she lived. She could recall her name, but not her address or how she’d got to my street. It was clear she had some kind of dementia.

I invited her in and got her a glass of water, while I phoned the police’s 101 number. About 20 minutes later two officers came and they were able to look in her purse for some identifying information. Eventually they established she lived with her daughter and son-in-law some 10 miles away. She had somehow left the house, without them noticing, with coat and overnight bag and we think, by means of a passer-by giving her a lift from their village, got into Chester. They were shocked but grateful she was safe and came immediately to pick her up. They explained she had just begun to start wandering and were already seeking advice from the community mental health team.

Without my Dementia Friends awareness I doubt I’d have understood why the lady was so immaculately dressed, why she could recall her name and that of her brother and why she knew precisely where she needed to get to (her childhood home)…but at the same time didn’t know how to get there and was unable to tell me where she now lived. I also recalled how people with dementia may not remember the detail of a recent encounter, but would nevertheless retain the feelings and emotions from it. For that reason, I had the confidence to stay calm, friendly and patient with her.’

8 thoughts on “Taking action to help those living with dementia

  1. kenneth h r jones

    I believe that everyone should learn and be taught about dementia awareness. So they have an understanding about it. In my job. We learn about dementia all the time

  2. Nicola Newell

    After my Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia, I myself have been on a course. I am more than aware now of others and have myself helped a man who had forgotten where he lived. I took him to a pub opposite where I found him and asked for the bar staff to call the police. The police called and thanked me.

  3. renie reynolds

    Twenty years ago I had the same knock on the door from an elderly-ish woman who kept claiming my house was hers. I was a little scared, young and had no idea what to do. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t let her in as I was scared of what she would do. I called the police, who found the woman wandering the street. The police contacted me to say the woman had dementia and had wandered but was no safely back with a grateful family. Now, there is far more awareness and I would have invited her in to safe haven.

    1. Dementia Friends Post author

      Hi Leticia – many thanks for your message. Alzheimer’s Society provides lots of support and advice:

      • The Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Helpline 0300 222 1122 can provide information, support, guidance and signposting to other appropriate organisations.
      • The Alzheimer’s Society website has lots of information, advice, fact sheets and other resources available: http://alzheimers.org.uk/
      • You could visit Talking Point, Alzheimer’s Society’s discussion forum for anyone affected by dementia: http://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/forum.php
      • You can search for local services in your area here: http://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents.php?categoryID=200121

      Best wishes.

  4. D. D. Green

    My mother wandered away from home twice but twice she was brought home by kind strangers because I had put a card in her handbag which said If this lady is found her name is …….and she lives at …………………….. and my phone number is………………………
    I understand why it is now a matter for the police to deal with but I very much regret the passing of the time when people looked out for each other and had no need to involve the authorities.

  5. D. D. Green

    My mother wandered away from home twice but twice she was brought home by kind strangers because I had put a card in her handbag which said If this lady is found her name is ! and she lives at ! and my phone number is !
    I understand why it is now a matter for the police to deal with but I very much regret the passing of the time when people looked out for each other and had no need to involve the authorities.

  6. D. D. Green

    My mother wandered away from home twice but twice she was brought home by kind strangers because I had put a card in her handbag which said If this lady is found her name is ! and she lives at ! and my phone number is ! I understand why it is now a matter for the police to deal with but I very much regret the passing of the time when people looked out for each other and had no need to involve the authorities.

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