Worldwide, 55 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other Dementias.
What is Dementia? There are many forms of dementia, all referring to problems with the brain. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is an early change in the brain that may eventually lead to Dementia, but sometimes resolves.
Is Alzheimer’s Disease the same as MCI? MCI is not as severe as Alzheimer Disease (AD), the most common form of dementia or other AD-related Dementias (ADRD). People living with MCI are more likely to develop AD or ADRD, but sometimes the condition may improve or remain the same.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, many are common to other forms of Dementia.
These include the following:
Why are we concerned about Firearm Safety for Persons with Dementia (PWD)?
Safety is a major concern for PWD. They are at a greater risk of injury due to the potential for problems with their memory, judgement, and mood. One safety concern that is often overlooked is firearm safety. Approximately 40% of older adults, including persons with Dementia may have a firearm in the home and many do not keep them stored safely.
What can care partners or family members do to promote firearm safety?
Having discussions with your loved ones about firearms is important. Scheduling a time to discuss firearm safety, and coming prepared with a discussion template might help facilitate the conversation. Guides such as the Firearm Life Plan offer documents to help plan for firearm safety. These conversations should start before any signs of memory loss or cognitive impairment but can still be helpful if your loved one has been diagnosed with MCI or Dementia. If there is an immediate safety risk, some of the resources available in our Three Interventions Toolkit may be helpful to guide you in immediately removing the firearm from the home.
What can clinicians do to help promote firearm safety?
Clinicians can and should, ask their patients about access to firearms and firearm safety in routine clinical care. Asking patients about firearms in the context of other safety issues may make it more comfortable to address. If a patient acknowledges they have a firearm. The clinician may follow up to ask if the firearm is stored unloaded in a locked safe, with ammunition locked separately. If it is not, a clinician may provide their patient with information on resources for safer firearm storage.
When should we ask patients about firearms?
How should we ask patients about firearms?
What should we do if a patient says they have a firearm in the home, and there is a risk factor for suicide?
For families & caretakers:
For clinicians or medical professionals:
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The Dementia & Firearms Safety guide is part Dr. Laura Prater’s R21/R33 titled, Shared Decision-Making for Firearm Safety among Older Adults with early changes associated with Alzheimer’s Disease/Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias (AD/ADRD). This project is funded by the National Institute of Health; National Institute on Aging.
For more information on Dementia & Firearm Safety:
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