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Guns & Dementia

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Two things are true about elderly Americans: they are the most likely citizens to own a gun and the most likely patients to have dementia. How great a danger does this really pose? What should be done about it?

In the United States the debate around gun ownership often focuses on teenagers; however, research shows that elderly Americans are the most likely to own a gun. They are also the segment of the population most likely to have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

That presents both medical and legal problems for physicians and carers.

Writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Dr. Ellen Pinholt explores these issues and proposes a series of ‘red flag’ questions which caregivers must ask.

While there is no upper age limit on owning a firearm, Americans aged over 65 have the highest prevalence of dementia, depression and suicide. Federal law prohibits mentally incompetent persons from possessing a gun; however, this only applies to a formal finding by a court and not necessarily to a physician’s diagnosis of dementia.

Using a series of case studies to explore the medical and legal dimensions of the issue, Dr. Pinholt suggests ‘5 L’s’, questions about gun ownership which should be asked as routinely as questions about driving.

The 5 L’s

The following are a paraphrasing of the ‘5 L’s’:

  1. If there is a gun present is it Locked?
  2. Is it Loaded?
  3. Are Little children present?
  4. Does the gun owner feel Low or depressed?
  5. Is the gun owner Learned and dementia-free?

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8 years ago

Agism is a bad avenue to take for gun confiscation..

Virtual Viscosity
Virtual Viscosity
Reply to  Ralph
8 years ago

My Dad is 93 years old. The last thing he needs is a gun. I got rid of them all.

8 years ago

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Jose form Hubnames
Jose form Hubnames
6 years ago

Love this post. You said right: they are the most likely citizens to own a gun and the most likely patients to have dementia

mortal kombat x
mortal kombat x
6 years ago

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B. Berger

B. Berger

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chaffe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. With a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia appearing on the internet every 7 minutes, the site’s focus on the best information has been a help to many over the past 15 years. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor


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