Gun safety is a hot button issue in the U.S., and it can be challenging to come to a consensus as to how to keep people safe while protecting second amendment rights. Yet in spite of which side of the fence you find yourself, there’s one little-spoken-of situation which should cause all of us to take pause: the frightening mix of dementia and firearms.
A third of all aging adults within the United States report owning a gun, and an additional 12% are living in the house of a gun owner. Bearing in mind that approximately 9% of people over age 65 have some form of dementia (and that number is anticipated to more than double by the year 2050), it translates to millions of elderly with dementia living with firearms. Together with irregular states of confusion, aggression, and other difficult behaviors, having guns in the household sets the stage for a possible tragedy.
Within the state of Washington alone, a government survey found that tens of thousands of older adults (54,000) noted memory decline and confusion, in addition to access to firearms – and as many as 15,000 of the participants stating that the firearms that they had access to were both unlocked and loaded.
Furthermore, in one year alone, a Kaiser Health News study revealed upwards of 75 reported homicides or suicides committed by those with dementia, along with the instances of guns being brandished against those closest to them – household members, neighbors, caregivers. Additionally, the suicide rate for seniors is greater than for any other age group, 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 advocates for removing firearms from the homes of those with dementia, but when that is not a choice families are willing to consider, it is crucial to make certain that firearms are stored safely – locked, unloaded, and kept separate from ammunition. A little bit of ingenuity can go a long way as well – for example, exchanging real guns with toy models that permit an individual who was an avid hunter to safely maintain his link with that pastime.
For more advice on guns and Alzheimer’s disease and keeping loved ones safe, contact JFS Care, providers of dementia care Los Angeles and surrounding area seniors depend on. Click here to view our full-service area. Our properly trained and experienced caregivers are adept in helping to manage some of the more challenging aspects of dementia, and in determining when a senior might be in crisis and require medical attention. Our dementia respite care services allow family caregivers the opportunity to rest and renew, knowing their loved one is in capable and caring hands. Call us at (213) 383-2273 to find out more.