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When Reuniting a Person Living with Dementia

It is important to…

Be prepared:

If there is bad weather at the time, ask the family to prepare a change of clothing to bring with them (underwear, socks, coat and shoes) because their clothing could be wet or soiled.

Approach calmly:

Approach the person living with dementia in a casual manner and make sure they see you coming. If the person does not wish to return home immediately, walk a short distance with them while speaking in calm, normal, tone of voice.

Provide reassurance:

Reassure the person about where they are and why. Let them know they are now home and others will be happy to see them.

Keep your perspective:

The experience of someone going missing can be very stressful. Remember that the behaviour is part of the dementia and that no one is to blame.

How First Responders Can Support Caregivers and Families

  • Use appropriate terminology when speaking to care partners and the person living with dementia. Visit our Communication Tips page to learn how to communicate effectively with people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
  • Prepare family to be reunited with the person living with dementia if they are missing:
    • Ensure they have clothing ready.
    • Remind them to stay calm.
  • Suggest the person living with dementia or care partners check out our Strategy Guidelines to Reduce the Chance of Getting Lost.
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