Sharp & Dangerous Objects


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I was visiting a local community when I wandered into the dining room. Looking around, I made eye contact with one of the residents. “She needs a knife to cut this,” the resident said, motioning to her table partner.

I looked at her table, hunting for the butter knife. There wasn’t one.

Looking around the room, I realized the same thing—no one had a knife to cut with.

“Why doesn’t anyone in here have a knife?” I asked one of the staff members. 

“Oh, we thought they couldn’t because they all have dementia,” she shrugged. “Is that not true?”

I grabbed the silverware cup full of knives and began passing them out. “Everyone in here needs to have the same silverware,” I said. 

It’s a common misconception that people with dementia shouldn’t be allowed knives, scissors, or any other sharp objects. Not only is this thinking wrong, it also takes away some of the last abilities that a person with dementia has. Imagine being able to use a knife at dinner your whole life. Then, you move into a dementia community…and you no longer have one on your table. What are you going to cut with? A spoon?

Unless someone proves that they are going to use a butter knife as a weapon, they should be allowed a knife. And, frankly, if someone wanted to use a weapon they would probably pick a fork!

A lot of dementia care is changing people’s perceptions and expectations for people with dementia. 

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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