Alzheimer’s Care | Guns and Dementia. Cause for Alarm?
- By: Scott Vanderhoef
- Alzheimer's Disease
With an impassioned level of debate rivaling the Hatfields and McCoys, Dallas home care provider Heaven at Home Senior Care understands that it may be impossible to get to a final resolution regarding the issue of gun control. Yet regardless of which side of the issue you are on, there’s one little-spoken of scenario that will cause us all to take pause: the alarming mix of Alzheimer’s or another dementia and firearms.
About 33% of all seniors in the United States report owning a gun, and an additional 12% are living in the house of a gun owner. Keeping in mind that about 9% of those over age 65 have some form of dementia (and that figure is expected to more than double by the year 2050), it equates to millions of elderly with dementia living with firearms. Together with erratic states of confusion, aggression, and other difficult behaviors, having guns in the house sets the stage for potential tragedy.
Looking at the state of Washington alone, a government study discovered that thousands of older adults (54,000) reported memory decline and confusion, along with access to weapons – and as many as 15,000 of those participants reported that the firearms they had access to were both unlocked and loaded.
Additionally, in one year alone, a Kaiser Health News study revealed in excess of 75 reported homicides or suicides committed by individuals with dementia, together with the additional incidents of guns being brandished against those closest to them – family members, neighbors, and caregivers. Additionally, the suicide rate for seniors is higher than for any other age group, with guns being the most prevalent source for senior men, according to research by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends eliminating firearms from the homes of those with dementia; however, if that isn’t an alternative families are willing to consider, it is crucial to make certain firearms are stored properly – locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. A little bit of imagination goes a considerable way as well – for instance, exchanging real guns with toy models that enable somebody who was an enthusiastic hunter to safely maintain his link with that hobby.
For additional advice on keeping those in the Dallas area with dementia safe, call the skilled dementia care team at Heaven at Home Senior Care. Our properly trained and experienced caregivers are adept in managing a number of the more difficult aspects of dementia, and in determining when a senior may be in crisis and require medical help. Our dementia respite care services allow family caregivers the opportunity to relax and recharge, understanding their family member is in reliable and caring hands. Contact us at 866-381-0500 for additional information.