Your Client has Alzheimer's and You Discover a Gun in their House. Now What?
Posted Aug 31 2010 8:51am
In-Home Senior Care is never easy. That's why it's a "calling" and not just a job. And things can get a little hairy if you discover a firearm at your workplace. What do you do now?
(1) Mrs. R was an 85 y/o female living alone in a single family home. After a fall, she was evaluated in the Emergency Department at the local hospital and discharged. Home health was called in after the visit to do a safety check. When asked if she had any firearms in the home, she said “yes.” A loaded revolver was found in a fanny pack hanging from a hook in her closet. Mrs. R did not know how to handle the weapon. The weapon was given to her son to remove from the home.
(2) Mrs. F was an 81 y/o female living with her husband and four other family members who were acting as their Caregivers. She had recently been hospitalized for Arterial Fibrillation and a poor response due to her poor compliance with medications. Mrs. F had been previously diagnosed, as was her husband, with dementia. The family had moved into the home to act as Caregivers. The couple’s bedroom was upstairs where the husband kept a loaded shotgun by the bed in case of “intruders.” The adult nephew who was the primary Caregiver was informed of the weapon which he removed to a safer place.
Senior citizens are more likely than other age groups to own a gun. One survey reports that of those seniors greater than 65 years of age 37% - 68% owned a firearm of some sort and kept it in their home.
This scenario has rightfully been called “the perfect storm” for gun owners: increased prevalence of dementia, increased risk of depression and suicide, and increasing number of senior citizens raising their grandchildren (the safety concern is about a child finding a loaded gun).
So what do we do at Dr. Romeo’s In-Home Care in Reno during our assessment before our dementia technicians or other employees enter into a Caregivers relationship? We ask the Four L’s if the owner possesses a firearm:
(1) Is the firearm L oaded?
(2) Is the firearm L ocked? (trigger lock or cabinet lock)
(3) Is there a L earned owner? (competency in handling the weapon)
(4) Are L ittle children present, or ever present?
In the third trimester of training at our company, our Caregivers take a firearms safety course which is paid for by the company. Whether or not you take on the client is your choice if they possess firearms, but always remember that a Caregiver cannot legally remove a firearm from the home. It is best to contact a relative to do this or in a worst case scenario, call the police to make the legal call and take possession.
Dr. Ken Romeo is known as "The Alzheimer's Doc." He owns and operates an in-home senior health care company that specializes in Alzheimer's care in Reno, Nevada. http:///www.TheAlzheimersDoc.com