"Is there a gun in the home?" Assessing the risks of gun ownership in older adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 Jun;62(6):1142-6. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12836. Epub 2014 Jun 4.


An important ethical and safety concern that geriatricians, primary care providers, and home health professionals need to address is gun ownership by elderly adults. Those aged 65 and older now have the highest rate of gun ownership in America, and they also have a high prevalence of depression and suicide. Dementia can add additional layers of risk. Even older gun owners who are otherwise intellectually intact may benefit from information about gun safety with the increasing numbers of children being cared for by grandparents. Health professionals should ask patients, "Is there a gun in the home?" in the clinic and during home visits. Healthcare professionals must have knowledge and skills to address safe gun ownership in elderly adults. The 5 L's (Locked, Loaded, Little children, feeling Low, Learned owner) will assist professionals in addressing all aspects of safe ownership.

Keywords: competency for home health providers; gun ownership; gun safety; home safety checklist; workplace safety.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ownership*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety*