Researchers raise concerns over gun owners with dementia
By Christen Smith
Dee Hill examines the last of the guns that once belonged to her husband, Darrell Hill, a retired cop who accidentally shot her in the stomach shortly before his death in 2016. (Photo: Frank Carlson/PBS NewsHour)
Researchers at the University of Colorado raised concerns last week over dementia patients’ access to firearms.
Dr. Emmy Betz, associate research director for the university’s School of Medicine, estimates as an increasing number of Americans turn 65, the prevalence of dementia will nearly triple by 2050. So, too, would senior gun-owners diagnosed with the disease, reaching somewhere between 8 million and 12 million over the next three decades.
“You can’t just pretend it’s not going to come up,” Betz told PBS NewsHour last week. “It’s going to be an issue.”
PBS partnered with Kaiser Health News to investigate the intersection of dementia and gun ownership, finding more than 100 cases involving seniors who shot themselves or others as their health and mental state declined.
Suicides comprised the vast majority of instances found in news reports, hospital data and public death records since 2012. Another 15 cases were classified as homicides, the investigation discovered. Many acted during a bout of confusion or paranoia, often shooting caretakers, spouses or children —