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When Dementia Causes a Senior to Break the Law

Dementia It may seem incredible – a nice, at times disoriented grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease being handcuffed and placed under arrest. But nevertheless, that very scene is playing out at an alarming rate among the elderly, more than 100,000 of them, according to the most recent data – an increase of roughly 30% in the past decade. This dramatic rise in arrests of the elderly could be partially because of the increase in the population of older adults, including the increase in medical diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

With the agitation and aggression that can come with dementia, together with other erratic behaviors that might constitute the need for police intervention among the public, one particular solution lies in education. Dr. Brie Williams, geriatrician and director of the University of California, San Francisco’s Criminal Justice Aging Project, emphasizes the necessity for more effective police responses to dementia-induced actions. In short, this involves identifying the answer to, “Is there a medical reason for engaging in what’s usually considered criminal behavior?”

And along with criminal worries, some other situations concerning older adults are resulting in more calls for the police to step in, like those with Alzheimer’s wandering off and becoming lost, or being called upon to check on seniors at the request of worried relatives, neighbors, friends, or medical personnel.

Fortunately, the San Francisco Police Department has taken measures to ensure its law enforcement team is educated in appropriate intervention techniques, and supplied with helpful information on beneficial services and local resources to assist seniors, including those with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. With some other police departments nationwide expressing interest in creating similar programs, the hope is that additional empathy and knowledge of dementia will help us all better support those in desperate need of specialized care to live more full, rewarding and undisruptive lives.

For specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving, guidelines, and resources, contact Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, the St. Joseph home care professionals. Our fully qualified and experienced professional dementia care team offers patient, consistent care that gives comfort to family caregivers, keeping their loved ones safe at home, helping them partake in mentally stimulating pursuits and physical exercise as appropriate, and taking care of daily activities that would require help. Starting with the creation of a customized plan of care, that plan is then carried out and modified ongoing as needs change. Serving Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties, call us at 269-849-9252 to learn more.

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