With an intense level of dialogue rivaling the Hatfields and McCoys, coming to a resolution regarding the issue of gun control seems nearly insurmountable. Yet regardless of which side of the fence you find yourself on, one little-spoken-of situation should cause us all to take pause—the shocking mixture of dementia and firearms.
A third of all older adults within the United States report possessing a firearm, and an additional 12% are living in the home of a gun owner. Bearing in mind that around 9% of those over age 65 have some form of dementia (and that figure is expected to more than double by the year 2050), this totals to an incredible number of elderly individuals with dementia living with firearms. Combined with unpredictable states of confusion, aggression, and other challenging behaviors, having firearms in the household sets the stage for potential tragedy.
Looking at the state of Washington alone, a government survey found that approximately 54,000 older adults reported memory decline and confusion, together with access to weapons, and as many as 15,000 of the participants reported that the guns they had access to were both unsecured and loaded.
Additionally, in a single year, a Kaiser Health News report uncovered in excess of 75 reported homicides or suicides committed by those with dementia, along with extra instances of guns being brandished against those closest to them—members of the family, 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, as stated by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends removing guns from the houses of people with dementia. However, if that is not an option families are prepared to consider, it is important to be certain that firearms are stored securely—locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. A little imagination can go a considerable way as well. For example, exchanging real guns with toy models can enable a person who was a devoted hunter to safely maintain his connection to that pastime.
To get more detailed advice on keeping individuals with dementia safe, email the skilled dementia care professionals at Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, the leaders in St. Joseph home health care. Our expertly trained and experienced caregivers are adept in helping to manage some of the more difficult facets of dementia as well as determining when your loved one may be in crisis and in need of medical attention. Our dementia respite care services enable family caregivers to relax and recharge, knowing their loved one is in competent and caring hands. Give us a call at 269-849-9252 to find out more.