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”
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