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Dementia Case Study: “Bill”

Dementia Case Study: “Bill”

Keeping seniors safe or keeping them happy:

sometimes you have to choose;

sometimes you just need to be more creative.


Bill loved to hunt.  He had gone out every year of his adult life.  It was the highlight of his fall to sit around the campfire, tell stories all night and shoot through the day.

Now Bill has dementia.  He still thinks he can handle a gun, “I’m fine. I’ve had a gun since I was a kid.”  His family is very frightened about his upcoming trip due to his loss of judgment and coordination.  Oh, and he always drives his own truck on these outings.  He shouldn’t be driving at all.  How do you balance the needs of everyone in the picture?  What is a no-go?  In this case, unrestricted gun-handling and driving poses a significant risk to self or others.

Rather than cancelling Bill’s trip and dealing with that backlash, the family asks “What can you modify to make this safe?”

First, Bill’s old hunting friends are aware of Bill’s decline and agree that they will hold Bill’s ammo and gun for him and be right with him when he shoots.  While not a recipe for a successful hunt, it is a better one for safety.

Second, his usual “lucky hunting spot” that is far back in the forest is substituted for one that is more road accessible.  His daughter “had to borrow his truck” over the hunting trip weekend, so he rode with his buddy.

He came back happy and tired with his friends two days early.  They got nothing but had a great time with his friends.  He reportedly fired his gun about 5 rounds and got mad at how it was “all out of whack and won’t shoot straight” and refused to use it the rest of the time.  He was still himself, living his way with minor modifications, supported by those who love him.