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Grandmother wakes up scared


Registered User
Jan 8, 2016
Hello everyone. I'm new here and I have a question I hope someone can answer.
I look after my elderly grandparents and my grandma is in the early stages of dementia (she's 85). Today she told me she wakes up a lot of mornings and doesn't know where she is (she's lived in the same house for 40 years) or who she is and gets scared. After a while she'll realize she's at home. I have witnessed her do this firsthand more than once.
So my question is: Is there anything I can do to help her recognize her surroundings faster? Can I place an item within eyeshot that she will recognize quickly? A photo of her and my grandfather, or a small sign with the town name, something like that?
Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.


Registered User
Oct 11, 2012
I think we try all sorts of things. 90% don't work but it is worth trying for the 10% that does work. As she is in early stages is it worth making a poster saying something like "Goodmorning Mrs XX. We are at (address)" then add a family photo of you and them?

I think it is so good that she can share this anxiety with you. It shows what a good relationship she has with you. Good luck!

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Belleuosus

Waking up was one of the times of most confusion when my husband was with me. I tried to make sure he was never alone when he woke so I could reassure him he was with me and safe. He was often frightened too.


Registered User
Feb 6, 2012
Voice alarm

It must exist ...an alarm that comes with a spoken message that you record. Hello gran etc etc. We have a message board for when we are outside the home.


Registered User
Mar 13, 2012
...an alarm that comes with a spoken message that you record. Hello gran etc etc.
I don't have dementia but I think if I was awoken by a recorded message I'd be scared half to death or think I'd been incarcerated!

I'm sorry I don't have anything useful to add but we are facing the same issue. She regularly doesn't know where she is and in an attempt to reconnect her I showed mum a photo of my late father (they'd been married 50 years) -- she looked at it and said: "What that old man?"


Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
I don't have anything useful to add either but a few photos seems good but a recorded message would scare some people and not others. Try everything. The only way we found was a personal hand holding reconnection - so difficult to bring someone back from somewhere we don't know they have gone to!!

I wonder if some of the people on TP who have a diagnosis of dementia and have actually had experience of this might help us out?