With an intense level of discussion rivaling the Hatfields and McCoys, it appears impossible to arrive at a solution regarding the issue of gun control. Yet despite which side of the issue you find yourself on, one little-discussed situation will cause all of us to take pause—the worrying combination of Alzheimer’s disease and firearms.
A third of all aging adults within the US report possessing a firearm, and an additional 12% live in the house of a gun owner. Bearing in mind that around 9% of individuals over age 65 have some type of dementia (and that figure is anticipated to more than double by the year 2050), this translates to an incredible number of elderly with dementia living with firearms. Combined with erratic states of confusion, aggression, and other difficult behaviors, having guns in the household sets the stage for possible tragedy.
Looking at the state of Washington alone, a government study found that 54,000 older adults disclosed memory decline and confusion in addition to access to firearms, with as many as 15,000 of those participants reporting that the guns they had access to were both unsecured and loaded.
Additionally, in just one year, a Kaiser Health News report uncovered upwards of 75 reported homicides or suicides committed by people with dementia in addition to the extra instances of guns being brandished against those closest to them—household members, neighbors, and caregivers. Additionally, the suicide rate for older adults is higher than for any other age bracket, with guns being the most prevalent source for senior men, as reported by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends eliminating guns from the homes of those with dementia. However, if that is not an alternative families are able to consider, it’s essential to make sure guns are stored securely—locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. A little ingenuity can go a long way as well. For example, replacing real guns with toy models allows a person who was an enthusiastic hunter to safely preserve his link with that pastime.
For further advice on keeping those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia safe, call the skilled dementia care professionals at Atlanta Home Care Partners. Our fully trained and experienced caregivers are proficient in managing some of the more difficult facets of dementia and identifying when your loved one might be in crisis and in need of medical help. Our dementia respite services and home health care in Dunwoody enable family caregivers to relax and recharge, understanding their family member is in reliable and caring hands. Contact us at (404) 228-0103to learn more.