An elderly Chicago resident of a nursing home was just recently shocked by a taser and then hit with bean bag rounds by the Chicago police after the nursing home he was a resident called the cops based on his behavior. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago police were called to The Victory Centre of Park Forest when the 95 year old resident of the home began acting “combative” while at the home. It in unclear at this time whether the nursing home staff took any other steps prior to calling the police to help calm down the patient. When police got to the scene, the resident was allegedly holding a knife and a cane when he was hit with the taser and the bean bag rounds. The police stated that when they arrived the resident was threatening staff and paramedics and refused to drop the weapons he was holding. It is unclear whether the resident understood or was capable of understanding the requests of the police at the time of the incident. After he has shocked and hit with the rounds, the elderly man was taken to a local hospital. He was still conscious and talking to paramedics on the way to the hospital, however he later died as a result of his severe personal injuries once at the hospital.
Unfortunately, these types of incidents occur more frequently than many people realize. Elderly patients suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may be confused or scared and not realize what is going on around them, causing them to try and defend themselves or not listen to security personnel when they are shouted at to do something or stop doing something.
Last summer in a different situation, another police officer used a stun gun on an Alzheimer’s patient to shock the man after the patient allegedly became combative and struck several other patients. The police officer shocked the patient five times with the stun gun. There is no evidence supporting why the police officer felt the need to shock the patient so many times to get him to stop acting in a “combative” way. Following that encounter, the wife of the patient filed a lawsuit against the police department for the force used on her husband. Other types of these cases have happened all over the country, and present a problem that needs to be addressed.
While the police officers in all of these situations claim that they attempted to talk the person into disarming or calming down before getting physical, it seems likely that these patients would not necessarily understand these requests and be so scared and confused that they would not listen to the police, given many of their current mental states.
It is important to look into what is a safer and less violent way to help a patient that is confused and scared and does not understand where they are or what is going on around then. Bringing the police in when a patient is scared and thinks they are protecting themselves is not necessarily the best choice. The nursing home staff and the people helping out the patient with their mental health need to look at what will best help the patient feel safe and relaxed again and not immediately call the police who may not know how to best approach a person who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s. While keeping others safe is obviously also a priority, many of these patients may not really have any intentions of hurting others and should be handled in a way that will protect both the scared and confused resident as well as the others present.