Dementia and Guns: A Deadly Mix?

Hands aiming a pistol

Dementia and guns: Learn more about this important issue in this article.

With a heated level of debate rivaling the Hatfields and McCoys, it seems impossible to calmly come to an agreement regarding the issue of gun control. Yet no matter which side of the issue you are on, there’s one little-mentioned situation that should cause us all to take pause—the worrying mix of dementia and guns.

A third of all aging adults within the US report owning a firearm, and an additional 12% are living in the home of a gun owner. Keeping in mind that about 9% of those over age 65 have some kind of dementia (and that number is anticipated to more than double by the year 2050), this translates to millions of seniors with dementia living with firearms. Together with unpredictable states of confusion, aggression, and other difficult behaviors, having firearms in the house sets the stage for potential tragedy.

Looking at the state of Washington alone, a government study found that 54,000 older adults disclosed memory decline and confusion along with access to guns, and as many as 15,000 of those participants stated the guns they had access to were both unsecured and loaded.

In fact, in a single year, a Kaiser Health News report revealed in excess of 75 reported homicides or suicides committed by individuals with dementia as well as the extra cases 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, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends eliminating firearms from the homes of people with dementia. However, if that isn’t an option families are willing to consider, it is crucial to ensure guns are stored properly—locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition. A little bit of imagination can go a considerable way as well. As an example, exchanging real guns with toy models allows an individual who was a devoted hunter to safely preserve his connection to that hobby.

To get more detailed recommendations on keeping individuals with dementia safe, call the skilled care team at CareWorks Health Services. Providing quality dementia caregiving in Orange County, CA, our properly trained and experienced caregivers are adept in helping manage a number of the more difficult components of dementia as well as determining when your loved one might be in crisis and needing medical attention. Our dementia respite care services enable family caregivers the opportunity to rest and recharge, knowing their senior loved one is in capable and caring hands. Give us a call at (949) 859-4700 or contact us online for more information.