September 8, 2017

dementia in the elderlyIt is incredible – a kind, occasionally perplexed grandfather with Alzheimer’s disease getting handcuffed and put under arrest. And yet that very scene is occurring at a shocking rate among seniors, over 100,000 of them , according to the current stats – an increase of almost 30% in the past decade. This dramatic rise in arrests of the elderly may be partly due to the growth in the population of older adults, in addition to the increase in medical diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia in the elderly.

With the anxiety and aggression that can go along with Alzheimer’s disease, along with other erratic behaviors that might constitute the need for police intervention among the general public, one particular solution lies in education. Dr. Brie Williams, geriatrician and director of the University of California, San Francisco’s Criminal Justice Aging Project, emphasizes the need for more effective police responses to dementia-induced actions. In short, this requires determining the answer to, “Is there a medical explanation for engaging in what’s usually viewed as criminal behavior?”

And in addition to criminal concerns, other situations involving seniors with Alzheimer’s disease are more often calling for law enforcement to step in, like individuals with Alzheimer’s wandering away and becoming lost, or being asked to check up on seniors at the request of concerned family relations, neighbors, friends, or medical personnel.

Thankfully, the San Francisco Police Department has taken steps to ensure its law enforcement team is educated in appropriate intervention methods, and given resources for beneficial services and local resources to help the elderly, including those with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. With some other law enforcement departments in the United States expressing interest in implementing similar programs, the hope is that increased empathy and familiarity with dementia will help us all better assist those who are in desperate need of professional care to live more full, rewarding and undisruptive lives.

For professional Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving, guidelines, and resources, contact the St. Louis home health team at Continuum. Our fully qualified and experienced professional dementia care team offers patient, reliable care that delivers comfort to family caregivers, keeping their family members safe at home, helping them engage in mentally stimulating activities and exercise as appropriate, and tending to daily activities that would require assistance. Starting with the creation of a customized care plan, that plan is then implemented and adjusted ongoing as needs change. Call us at (314) 863-9912 or contact us online to learn more.