I've personally never heard of it happening. I doubt if the sufferer would have the co-ordination to wield any sort of weapon to any effect but that wouldn't exclude the possibility of an accident such as knocking someone out of the way and perhaps into a potentially serious situation such as down stairs, into a road, against a hot surface or fire - the kind of things we have to watch when raising children.
Agrression has to be recognised and help sought - it shouldn't be dismissed as something the carers should deal with in private. It is one of the saddest symptoms to cope with coming often from the kindest, most gentle people - remember it is not them, it is the illness.
This is a difficult one to answer, and here are my personal thoughts.
Firstly, it depends on the stage the person with dementia is at.
There are stages where they may become very agitated and frustrated.
There are medications that can cause people [with or without dementia] to act differently than they normally would.
There is opportunity. If a knife or a gun is lying around, the person may grab it, not realising the possible consequences. This happened for us when my wife threw a knife at me; no malice, but it happened to be in her hand at the time.
Dementia means that the person no longer realises the consequences of things they may do, and they may not realise that the person across the room from them is their husband/wife/child. They may think they pose a physical danger to themselves.
In a car, as driver or passenger, they can do dangerous and possibly fatal things.
In a kitchen, a gas stove can be turned on and not lit.
The carer may try and argue with someone with dementia. Never any point in that and it just can make them more agitated. There is no logic to be argued about any more!
To round this up, I think it is possible for someone at a certain stage, given the opportunity, and the wrong circumstances, to do another person harm. It would not be the person with dementia doing this, it would be the dementia itself.
We should always try to ensure that possibly dangerous items are not available to anyone with dementia, but this is probably almost impossible to do as almost anything can be used wrongly.
Am I to assume that you would use the dementia in mitigation of the shooting?
Also, are you in the US?
If you are in the UK, then do call the Alzheimer's Help Line. This won't be much use to anyone outside the UK, but there will be support services wherever you are, I am assuming.
I think it is very possible for someone with AD to kill, without even realizing what they had done.
I speak only from my experience, my husband a lovely caring thoughtful individual before AD, grabbed my clothes on my shoulder and twisted cutting off my air supply if our son had not been there I may well have died, as it was I had cuts around my neck for weeks after. That was about 8 years ago, I still care for my husband at home, mostly on my own, what has changed? Mostly my attitude, I agree with everything, it’s safer. I only really relax when he goes in to respite. He was only 50 and very strong when that happened.
I think it is very possible, once at home my mum did not recognise me and thought I was an intruder, she came at me with a pair of scissors, my boyfriend came from behind her and grabbed her hand when she raised the scissors above her head to come down with it. I think it is very possible.
thank you for your replies...getting help is too late...a family member is now no longer with use due to the fact that the person with alzheimers has already killed, im still in denial and really dont want to think about it...but yes im in the US and really havent found any help lines to call, but its just really sad....the person with the alzheimers had been violence in the house for many years, ie: holding hostage, pulling knives, pulling guns (but up untill the past week when the guns where pulled they where not loaded)...the person with alzheimers is now up on murder 2 charges i just have soooo many questions but dont know where to start and where to ask...i found this web site and im glad i did...all i know right now is that the person with the alzheimers was upset and arguing before he pulled out the gun and pulled the trigger...the story is really deep, also at the time of the shooting there was a relative living in the house and is the only witness to what really happend, and at this point its even hard for me to believe what he has said...another question would be does alzheimers lead to insanity??? thank you all, and sorry about the bad grammer...
I think the crime here is that no help was found for your family before. Dementia can be complicated as there can be other factors ie was there a proper diagnosis, was there an existing mental or physical illness, was the person under the influence of medication, etc. There are plenty of cases where the person with dementia gets aggressive when they really don't understand what is happening, where they are and who the people around them are; a scary place to be. This can lead to behaviour that looks mad but it makes sense in their world. I am sure you are still numb from such a terrible event. I hope that you will find help in your situation and my thoughts are with you.
When my Granny had AD in the 1970s and there was no diagnosis or treatment, she threw a sharp object (it was sissors) at my Mum, intending to hurt her. I got in between them but fortunately only got a minor injury and shock. My mum was so upset that I'd been hurt that she attacked my Gran and I had to pull her off. All of this happened because we didn't understand that my Gran was ill so noone could make allowances and there was no help. You are in a much worse positon but I really understand how it could happen and wish there was something I could say that would help!
Now my Dad has AD but so far he's not violent - I'm just hoping it will stay that way. It's hard to accept that it's not anyone's fault - when people have AD they're not really capable of understanding the consequences of their actions.
I am extremely sad to hear of the situation for you and your family. It sounds so horrifying.
My father had a couple of moments when he tried to attack me about 2 years' ago which was just so out of character because he has always been such a mild mannered chap. However, it is worth saying again that it is the AD that causes the aggression and AD sufferers can never, in my opinion, be held responsible for their actions.
I don't think anyone can label AD sufferers as 'insane'. Rather it is the loss of brain cells that causes uninhibited and inappropriate behaviours. The total inability to recognise danger for themselves and acts of aggression towards others are recognised manifestations of the progression of this awful disease.
Nobody would label a 3 year old in possession of a firearm or other weapon as insane and I'd categorise AD patients at a similar level. They are as vunerable as young children and need to be protected from harming themselves and others.