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Protect people with dementia from elder abuse

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Sep. 17, 2020 - 9:45 PM

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Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.

As the disease advances through the brain, an individual may experience difficulty with remembering newly learned information, confusion with time or place, decreased or poor judgement, and changes in mood or personality.

As someone who has witnessed the daunting task of caring for my loving husband, I know how important it is to recognize and understand the unique needs of individuals living with dementia. The loss of cognition associated with Alzheimer’s not only deems individuals unable to advocate for themselves, it also heightens their risk for experiencing elder abuse.

During my husband’s stay in a memory care community, several issues arose with his care that caused concern. This created a need for more oversite and hiring a caregiver outside of the community to check on his care. These concerns were not investigated properly by the memory care community and resulted in his removal from this community.

Given the growing number of people living with dementia, social services and criminal justice professionals will increasingly encounter this vulnerable group, and working with them can be fundamentally different than working with other victims of abuse or exploitation.

Yet these professionals receive little or no training, and I implore Congress to change this. By co-sponsoring the bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act (S. 3703/H.R. 6813), Congressman Drew Ferguson can improve elder abuse training to specifically include dementia.

If passed, the Department of Justice would ensure these professionals are educated and equipped to properly communicate with and protect victims of elder abuse living with Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

Please join me in asking Rep. Drew Ferguson to co-sponsor this vital legislation as we work together to protect the more than 5 million American’s and more than 150,000 Georgians living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Jacqueline Miller

Peachtree City