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Abuse admitted by dementia relatives

23rd January 2009

UK research has shown that 50% of people interviewed said they had "mistreated" a relative suffering from dementia. 

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The study of 220 people - carried out by University College London and published in the British Medical Journal - showed one third had committed "significant abuse".

The research was conducted by interviewing people who cared for relatives with dementia at home.

Of the 220 participants, 115 carers said they were guilty of some "abusive behaviour", with 74 admitting "more serious" abuse.

Over 25% of relatives said they had shouted at the person with dementia. Only 3 participants said they had hit, slapped or roughly handled their relative.

The team wrote: "Professionals are often reluctant to talk about abuse, perhaps because of a fear that discussing and acknowledging it would necessitate referral of an adult for protection and trigger a punitive response such as removal of the person with dementia."

They added that as a result of this reluctance the problem is often not dealt with until it "becomes serious".

"Similarly clinicians may not consider abuse when seeing most carers, if abuse if perceived as a rare action purposefully perpetrated by amoral abusers."

The Alzheimer's Society stated that people suffering from the disease were particularly "vulnerable" and called for the issue to be looked into. 

 

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