Dementia and Firearm Safety?

The National Institute of Aging reports that more than 17 million seniors in America over the age of 65 own a firearm, and states in a recent report, “memory, thinking, and judgment as well as physical and behavioral competence issues related to an elderly person’s safe operation of a motor vehicle apply to firearms, too. Gun availability can pose a particular risk to those with dementia.”

Through my work counseling families coping with dementia, it became clear to me several years ago that weapons in the home are a serious danger. They are far more prevalent than you might believe, and too often they are unmanaged. As families evolve, and parents become empty nesters as their children grow up and move away, too often they become casual about firearms in the home. They drift away from the good habits they may have practiced when the kids were small. Hey, what could happen? Afterall, we’re all adults here, right?

For these reasons, Coping with Dementia LLC consulted with a number of experts and created a booklet entitled “Dementia and Firearm Safety.” It includes advice from firearm experts including a dealer, a competitive target shooter, a retired deputy, and an attorney specializing in gun laws. In 2019, this booklet was published by the Citrus County nonprofit Dementia Education, Inc. and is available through that organization or from Coping with Dementia.

“Dementia and Firearm Safety” is not an anti-gun book. It acknowledges the reality of legal gun ownership and does not even attempt to address the political debate connected with firearms. Its message is quite simple: Dementia erodes good judgment, reduces cognition, slows reflexes, and impairs all of our senses including vision, hearing, manual dexterity, and fine motor skills; and can cause delusions and hallucinations. In short, dementia attacks every single mental, physical, or emotional faculty that enables us to be safe firearm users! Therefore, the ready and unmanaged availability of firearms to loved ones living with dementia is a danger that must be addressed with care and planning.

Here in Citrus County, I believe we are confronting this danger in an aggressive and responsible way. Dementia Education Inc. announced recently that it has launched a project to distribute a thousand of these booklets free of charge within our county before the end of 2023. Clearly, this goal is attainable because more than 200 books have already been given away during the first two months of 2022!

Coping with Dementia is supporting this initiative by making books available at all of its Citrus County workshops and speaking engagements. In addition, local National Rifle Association recruiter Rick Wehrheim had endorsed the booklet and is giving it away from his booth at the many festivals and public events that he attends throughout the county.
You can join this project. Would your business, church, or civic organization like to make “Dementia and Firearm Safety” available free of charge to members or customers? Just contact me and I can arrange for this to happen.

I am so proud that Citrus County has become such a Dementia Friendly community. Firearm safety is just one more layer of education and planning that we can apply to the benefit of our loved ones living with dementia, and their families and care partners. Let’s do it because we all deserve the best!

Until next time remember: “We all deserve the Best”
Send your comments and stories to deb@coping.today

2 Replies to “Dementia and Firearm Safety?”

  1. Hello, so grateful I found this site. 9-11 we took my father into ER due to a few falls. I suspect a minor stroke, because he had drooping on the left side of his face plus his left side became impaired. The CT showed no stroke which they don’t. I also figure he is stage 5 dementia, so I have been looking into getting some extra help on top of my brother and I caring for my dad. We are WI.

    It seems he has improved some from that potential stroke, I figured 75%, but he still can feel more on the right side. My father also has arthritis in his back and walks crooked. My concern for him is safety. My father will dress, some clean up, and does feed himself, it does take a long time though. He has is normal routine. My brother feels no extra help is necessary at this time because of this. So, we are not on the same page about that. Physical therapy would be wonderful for him at home.

    I am just seeking any advice you have for me. I do all the cleaning and see him ever other weekend, make food, shop, and any extra that is needed. My brother lives with him, and does check on him about every 4 hours. We did have a functional screen done on him to see if he qualifies for any services, it will take a month to hear back. Thank you and bless you for all that you do.

    Holly Kaminski

    1. Hello Holly, Another service you can look into, if your dad is a veteran he may be entitled to some benefits that could help with services. If your brother is resistant to allowing services in that will be a problem for all of you because when he will need help it may be in a crisis. We would like to have services begin before we need them not after we need them. Another thing that you may look into is an adult day program that can give all a break from each other and provided some sociability for your dad, which is much needed. My email is deb@coping.today please feel free to email and let me know what county you live in and I will see if I can find some services for you. We present workshops, have online support groups you can join. Thank you for your comment.

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