When Caregivers Have to Call the Police

Your partner, who has dementia, is getting aggressive. He or she may not recognize you despite the fact that you have been married for many years. Your children are grown and you were looking forward to enjoying your grandchildren and perhaps spending time doing the things you didn’t have time for when every day was filled with deadlines and obligations.

Dementia changed everything. Now the person who was always at your side when things went wrong can suddenly turn on you, becoming more aggressive and volatile by the moment. You have no choice, you have to call for help.

Depending on the information your local law enforcement agency has received, things can be resolved in a matter of minutes or they can become worse in even less time. The situation is emotionally charged. The person with dementia feels threatened and is prepared to defend himself of herself. You may be frightened or angry, perhaps both. What is needed in a situation like this is a clear head and a calm voice.

In order for law enforcement to respond in this way, they have to know what they are walking into.  By doing the following you can help prevent misunderstandings and overreactions and assist in creating a positive outcome for all concerned.

  1. Upon diagnosis contact police, fire, and rescue organizations in your area and let them know that there is a person in your home with dementia and you may need assistance in the future. Provide them with the name and age of the person in care, the diagnosis, and any other pertinent information they request. Give them your contact information and an alternate emergency contact if there is one available.
  2. Keep close at hand an updated list of all medications prescribed for them and the names and contact information of treating physicians.
  3. As soon as you feel the person in your care may be a danger to you or themselves, disengage. Do not argue or try to reason with your family member. It will not help and may make things worse.
  4. Go to a place of safety and call 911.
  5. Inform the emergency operator that there is someone with dementia in the home and you need assistance in calming him or her.
  6. Once help arrives, allow the professionals to do their work while you remain calm and keep your distance.

It is never easy to deal with a situation like this. However, being prepared before it happens can help bring about a safer resolution for everyone.

To learn more about Bobbi Carducci and her work with caregiving, visit www.bobbicarducci.com or www.theimperfectcaregiver.com. You can find her book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver here.

10/9/2019 7:00:00 AM
Bobbi Carducci
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Bobbi Carducci was a caregiver for her father-in-law with dementia for seven years. She is a caregiver support group leader, blogger, author of the book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver, and national speaker on caregiver issues. www.bobbicarducci.com www.theimperfectcaregiver.com You can follow her on Twitter @Bobb...
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