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[Globally, about 47 million people were living with dementia in 2015, and this number is projected to triple by 2050 (Livingston et al. 2017). People with dementia are particularly vulnerable to abuse (McCausland et al. 2016), probably because they are more likely to depend on others for care, and to have impairments in memory, communication abilities and judgment that make it more difficult for them to avoid, prevent and report abuse. Many are reluctant to report abuse perpetrated by those on whom they depend. Because people living with dementia are less able to care for themselves, they are also more at risk of self-neglect, which is defined as elder abuse in some jurisdictions, including the USA (United States of America). In a study of USA Adult Protective Services (APS) cases, cognitive impairment was significantly associated with self-neglect in older people (Choi et al. 2009). Ninety percent of patients with dementia develop neuropsychiatric symptoms at some point in the illness (which include agitation, aggression, depression and apathy) (Ballard and Oyebode 1995), and these symptoms are associated with an increased the risk of abuse, probably because it is more difficult to care for a person who is experiencing them. The consequences of abuse include distress, physical and mental ill-health, hospitalization, reduced survival, institutionalization and financial loss (Dong and Simon 2013; Dong et al. 2011, 2013). People with dementia are probably particularly vulnerable to these adverse consequences, because they already have worse physical and mental health, and are at greater risk of mortality, hospitalization and institutionalization.]
Published: Jan 2, 2020
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