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Nursing Homes Abuse Blog By Jonathan Rosenfeld

Dementia / Alzheimer’s Patients

Dementia patienstElderly patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are at a greater risk of abuse by those people close to them. This is true whether patients live in a care setting or a residential setting. Their cognitive problems also mean that they are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of by strangers. Through legal protection, supervision, training, and adequate support, many of these abuse situations are preventable.

Because of their increasing dependence on their caregivers, communication challenges, loss of capacity, and cognitive impairment, people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are at risk for neglect, psychological abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse, and verbal abuse.

Increased risk of financial abuse

Even though it is shameful that we have to say it, there are those unscrupulous people who prey upon the elderly struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A British report suggests that amongst patients who suffer from dementia, approximately 15% of them have been victims of financial abuse. This may include fraudulent sales, scam mail, or cold calling. When asking the caregivers, 62% reported that doorstep salespeople or cold callers had approached the person in their care. Oftentimes this means the loss of finances because of these swindles, but it also causes frustration, exhaustion, and stress within the patient’s immediate family.

Additional issues facing the disabled

Complicating the care for patients struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is the fact that no two patients exhibit the same symptoms. Because no two Alzheimer’s patients will experience the same problems, it can make it difficult for unqualified staff members to identify or deal with the issue.

As a family member or loved one, one of the best things to do is learn more about the issue. This way you have a better idea of what to expect as this issue continues to develop. Knowing what is normal and what is considered out of the ordinary can make it easier to identify issues such as abuse.

Changes in personality and behavior

Those struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease experience brain changes. This can affect how they feel or how they behave. Some of the more common changes include:

  • Delusions (for example, the idea that something has been taken from them)
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Wandering
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Distrust in others
  • Mood swings
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression

As you can see from that brief summary, it takes a qualified staff member to handle patients who struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

What you can do?

The truth is that in many cases, neglect, mistreatment, or abuse of elderly patients is unintentional. There are times that unstrained staff members are pushed beyond their capabilities because of the special skills required to interact with these patients. However, it is important to remember that while this may be unintentional, it is never an acceptable excuse.

It is up to the nursing home, daycare, or any other care facility to provide specialized caregivers who are able to handle the unique needs of patients struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you believe someone you know and care about is being mistreated or not receiving the type of care that their mental state requires, it is important to speak out and seek legal action. Without you taking that first step, chances are that nothing is going to change.


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