Firearms in Frail Hands: An ADL or A Public Health Crisis!

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2015 Jun;30(4):337-40. doi: 10.1177/1533317514545867. Epub 2014 Aug 7.


The incidence of neurocognitive disorders, which may impair the ability of older adults to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), rises with age. Depressive symptoms are also common in older adults and may affect ADLs. Safe storage and utilization of firearms are complex ADLs, which require intact judgment, executive function, and visuospatial ability, and may be affected by cognitive impairment. Depression or cognitive impairment may cause paranoia, delusions, disinhibition, apathy, or aggression and thereby limit the ability to safely utilize firearms. These problems may be superimposed upon impaired mobility, arthritis, visual impairment, or poor balance. Inadequate attention to personal protection may also cause hearing impairment and accidents. In this article, we review the data on prevalence of firearms access among older adults; safety concerns due to age-related conditions; barriers to addressing this problem; indications prompting screening for firearms access; and resources available to patients, caregivers, and health care providers.

Keywords: agitation; dementia; firearm laws; firearms.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Frail Elderly / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Public Health / legislation & jurisprudence*