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Over the next half century the population of moderately to severely demented individuals is projected to nearly triple Because high complex technology is usually not required in the care of cognitively impaired elderly people, these individuals may be the first patients nursing students are assigned to care for Despite the fact that these elderly people do not require ‘high tech’ care, then-nursing care can be extremely challenging for nursing students In order to help prepare nursing students to meet this challenge, a phenomenological study was conducted to describe the meaning of nursing students'experiences caring for cognitively impaired elderly people Thirty-seven undergraduate nursing students participated in the study Each student described in writing an experience he/she had had while caring for a cognitively impaired elderly person Using Colaizzi's phenomenological method to analyse these descriptions, five themes emerged Nursing students experienced a myriad of emotions such as frustration, sadness, fear and empathy Caring for cognitively impaired elderly people presented difficult challenges for nursing students to overcome Because of the difficulties encountered in caring for confused elderly people, nursing students utilized multiple nursing care approaches As a result of giving care to elderly people suffering from dementia, negative consequences ensued for some nursing students The positive outweighed the negative consequences in the phenomenological study Implications for nurse educators are addressed