Alzheimers and guns
I would appreciate any advice and input. My dad had a stroke two years ago at the age of 80. He has been a gun-owner and hunter all his life. He now suffers from memory loss and dementia or Alzheimers depending on which doctor you talk to. He still lives at home with my mother and often suffers from depression and paranoia. Lately, at night he often thinks someone is in the house. I told my mom to hide his gun (.22 revolver) but she said he knows where it is and checks it every night and if she were to hide it he would get very agitated and even more paranoid. So I told her to hide the bullets but he keeps the gun loaded and also checks to make sure the gun is loaded. My brother removed the bullets last week and it made my dad more paranoid - he was sure someone had come into the house. So they allowed him to reload the gun just to calm him down. He has yet to make any attempt at grabbing the gun but I'm still worried about it. I want to know if, and where, I can buy some .22 blanks or other false bullets to load into the gun so he will think it is loaded. I am very worried that he may mistake my mother for a burglar or accidentally shoot himself. My brother and I are in agreement that he doesn't need to have a loaded gun within reach. Would the gun have to be modified in order to load blanks? Or should I remove the firing pin? How can I disable this gun without his knowledge? Do I need a permit to purchase blanks? Any advice? Thanks in advance.
Snap caps! Oh, and welcome to the DC Forum from Delaware!
Only partly in jest, as this is a serious topic--- buy him a new gun.
Get him a revolver in 38 sp which can be loaded with Snap Caps. DELUXE SNAP CAP - Brownells
Tell him you really want him to have a great new gun to protect the house with. Tell him those Snap Caps are the greatest thing since apple pie in SD ammo. Then make his .22 disappear.
If you play the game right he'll be happy; you'll look good; you and your brother will achieve your objective. Dad and mom will be safe.
If dad has a moment of lucidity and figures out what the Snap Caps are, well you still have a brand new gun for you or your brother. Nothing much lost. Something gained.
If he figures out the Snap Caps aren't real ammo, you can also lie and tell him you made a mistake and loaded the wrong thing in there, apologize profusely and say you'll go on home and get some proper ammo for him. Then don't do it.
Maybe with luck he won't remember.
I bet you can put him off this way for quite awhile.
Also, meanwhile, you can take the .22 to a gunsmith and get it disabled in the event that he throws a fit and demands his own gun back.
Just be aware that even if you make it where he has a disabled firearm, the people he may point it at will not know and assume it is a deadly weapon. This has played out badly before especially when the police are called to do welfare checks.
Maybe let him pitch a fit for a while when the gun goes away. It's a difficult decision but the only truly safe one is to remove the gun completely from his control.
Take some 22 cartridges pull the bullet out, empty the contents and replace the bullet.
It will be important to mark the cartridges so you know which ones are rigged.
Not sure how well your dad sees, but you could even fire the empty cartridge so the primer isn't even live, and this could be your mark.
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memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer's + depression and paranoia.
There needs to be zero firearms in the home with that combination. That's just the reality of the situation.
You really need to act and sooner rather than later.
Remove all guns and ammunition from the home and buy him a can of OC spray so that he can feel protected.
At least nobody will die with a can of Less Than Lethal in the house.
+1 Pleople am I correct that you can soak the bullets in oil and prevent them from firing?
Originally Posted by markx
Here is a good place to start: Alzheimer's Association - Everything You Need to Know about Alzheimer's Disease They have numerous local chapters and offices also. Dementia/ALZ is a very difficult disease to deal with, and it drains the caregivers tremendously. There are many things that can be done to facilitate caregiving and communication with victims, and the organizations can help in that regard. In particular, look at the example on "Driving" on the attached site.
There are many resources, so use them. I liked Hopyards ideas a lot, but that must be balanced with the points made by NC Bullseye. You can also just empty the powder out of the 22's and replace the slug, but you'd need to be comfortable doing that. Your Dad might notice that too.
Maybe a real serious chat with Dad - you and your Brother, maybe leave your Mom out of it unless he finds her presence comforting?
Depression and paranoia are common, and both can be helped with a quality diagnosis and drug therapies. Depression is usually avoidable, and sadly enough, a sympton of deeper problems as you've noted.
Added: QK has some outstanding advice too.
Really I would remove the bullets, dump the powder and just replace the empty shells back in. When he checks if it's loaded I doubt he dumps out the rounds and verifies that there's actually a round in the bullet. If he sees brass in the cylinder that should suffice. Because the primer alone "may" propel that .22 bullet still. Really though, OC may be your best bet.
You'll have to do a search. He could have boxes of 22's stashed. If he's hip to snap caps or fired brass with glued bullets, the gun has to go. I applaud his taking their safety seriously, but there can come a time when even an inert gun could cause a problem.
My Grandfather had dymentia in his later years. While he never harmed himself or others, you have to accept the fact that the paranoia will only get worse as the condition worsens. At least that was the way it worked out for my Grandfather.
It's better to remove the firearms now, and hopefully your father will forget about the gun in time. Although, every person with memory loss remembers different things. My Grandfather lived in a time where none of his grandchildren were born. Only time will tell you how your father will end up. Even though he forgot who I was, he still appreciated the stranger who came to see him with the dogs. The one positive thing he remembered were the dogs in his life, and with my own dogs I brought some joy into his life in the final few years.
Look for the positive things your father remembers, and focus on those memories when you are with him.
I'm sorry that you are dealing with a family member with such a difficult condition. I wish you and your loved ones the best luck in dealing with your father.
If you wouldn't let him have the car keys because of the memory loss, why would you let him have a gun.
He watched over you and protected you for many years. He made rules for you that you may not have liked.
Now it's your turn to protect him...it won't be easy, but you have no choice now.
I would not cont on him not noticing that the brass is empty. The primer alone is unlikely to be able to get the bullet out of the barrel, and if it could get out of the barrel it will not have enough energy to do any harm.
Originally Posted by natimage
It is very easy to say, just take away his guns when you have never felt with a parent in this condition.
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Yes soaking them in water or oil should disable them as well. But id be concerned because there is no way to verify that it was affective. A cartridge may have a tighter seal than normal and not be as vulnerable.
Originally Posted by HKinNY
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You're in a tough spot, I understand very well from experience.
You've got good advice here so far, you'll just have to fit it in to your personal situation.