Firearms can be deadlier in elderly hands

Health care providers are trained to ask older patients with dementia about driving, but not about guns. A recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicinepoints out that at various stages of dementia, people may be unable to distinguish loved ones from intruders; their decision-making ability deteriorates. They may become paranoid, depressed, impulsive, agitated or aggressive.

One suggestion in the article is a “family firearm agreement,” described in the New York Timesas a sort of advance directive for guns. It’s a four-paragraph template in which the signer concedes that while he wants to control his guns for as long as possible, the time may come when he can’t make the best decisions. The document names an individual to tell him when that time arrives. While not legally binding, it can be a way to begin a tough conversation.

Alternatively, gun owners can establish a firearms trust, which is legally binding. A trustee can use a gun until disability or death triggers a provision transferring possession to the other trustees.

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