Australia's population is ageing and it is likely that there will be a threefold increase in the number of people living with dementia in the next 30 years. Caring for these individuals will incur a significant burden on our community both fiscal and personal. How we provide this care will say much about our compassion for and commitment to caring for those who are no longer part of the productive workforce. Individuals with dementia are a heterogeneous group with a wide range of function and capacity. Nevertheless, their impairment often requires a high level of formal care in order to reduce the risk of harm to themselves and others in the community. The imposition of such care arrangements can be invasive of their autonomy and in some cases their liberty. These issues are addressed in respect of some of the major risks of harm in a setting of dementia.