Should guns, like car keys, be taken away from aging family members?

Should guns, like car keys, be taken away from aging family members?

Many Baby Boomers already dread “the talk” –- suggesting their aging parents surrender car keys –- but now two geriatric experts say another thorny, family question must be asked of some elderly folks.

Is it time to give up your gun?

In a recently published paper, the two physicians offer a five-point checklist meant to help caregivers assess whether firearms remain safe in the hands and homes of older Americans, particularly if the gun owners are exhibiting unclear thinking or depression.

“Just like with some (older) people, it’s not if you should stop driving, but when,” said Dr. Ellen M. Pinholt, a co-author and former chief of geriatric medicine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “If we find some dementia present in a patient, it can be about when to lock up the weapon or whether we have the family take it away.

“But nothing else has really been out there to help families to begin that conversation,” added Pinholt, a retired Army colonel who practices medicine in Rapid City, South Dakota. Her recommendations were informed by past home-health visits, including: one grandparent who kept a loaded handgun under a bed, a 97-year-old woman who didn’t know how to unload her weapon, and an older firearm owner who appeared confused.

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