Challenges & Solutions, Resources, Teepa Snow, Tips, tools & skills, Videos

Teepa Snow demos 10 ways to calm a crisis with a person living with Alzheimer’s / dementia

Teepa Snow calms crisis no video

When people feel trapped and terrified, they get agitated, anxious, and sometimes aggressive. It’s normal behaviour for human beings to lash out when they feel threatened, whether they have dementia or not.

Unfortunately, many people who care for people living with dementia (PLWD), including family, friends, healthcare personnel and caregivers, blame this normal behaviour on the disease rather than finding and addressing the real underlying causes.

More often than not, something in the environment or in the way the person with dementia is being treated or approached prompts the aggressive behaviour, which is in fact a perfectly normal response to something the PLWD may perceive as a threat of some kind.

In the video below, dementia care pioneer Teepa Snow tells the story of de-escalating a situation in which an 89-year-old woman with dementia became violent when care facility staff and EMS personnel tried to get her onto a gurney.

I have personally gone through similar events. At the time, I had no idea what to do. I have since seen others in versions of the same scenario; it’s clear they either don’t know what to do or if they do know what to do they aren’t doing it.

Teepa thin banner

Instead of blaming the PWLD and the disease and then “drugging them up” as Snow says in the video, we need to learn how to:

1) prevent crises from happening in the first place

2) de-escalate if and when they occur despite our best efforts

Here are 10 techniques anybody can use to calm a crisis in which a PLWD becomes distressed and/or aggressive (see disclaimer):

  1. Remove the threat
  2. Create space
  3. Get on her/his side
  4. Get at or below eye level
  5. Use Hand Under Hand™
  6. Breathe in sync
  7. Calm your voice
  8. Relax your body
  9. Attend to her/his needs
  10. Be willing to go where he/she is

Learn how to put the tips into practice by watching this five-minute video with Teepa Snow:

More here:

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15 thoughts on “Teepa Snow demos 10 ways to calm a crisis with a person living with Alzheimer’s / dementia”

  1. Just an incredible example of how with the right training and empathy we can turn a horrible situation into something that isn’t a big deal at all. I picture the millions of family caregivers who have been or are currently in this situation but have no idea that it can be turned around.


    1. Yes it will, and we need everyone who has anything to do with people living with dementia to have it. That includes family members like me, as well as medical personnel, care partners of all descriptions, etc.


  2. Teepa Snow and Dr. Ethelle Lord two great teachers. Both are the top of the line. As one response indicated good common sense but it really takes two to tango and I mean understand the patient who is frightened and needs understanding hands to calm her as she sees people she envisions taking her to some foreign land. Family or caregiver read your patient by putting yourself as the patient this will allow you to meet and understand her dilemma. Dementia in the latter stages is dreadful as they can still say if they are not full of morphine, Am I dying> answer, not on my watch. Then go off and cry.


    1. Thanks for your comment Norman. Yes, Teepa is a force to be reckoned with, and an amazing pioneer in the area of positive dementia care. I attended a webinar given by Ethelle a couple of years ago and also found her to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Thankfully, there are many more dementia care advocates, trainers, and care pioneers who are collectively working toward much needed change in the area of dementia care.

      For those who might be interested in pursuing accreditation, Teepa Snow offers several different levels of certification; more about that here:


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