Understanding domestic abuse in the context of dementia can be complex. It is important to understand the history and personality of the person with dementia. Alzehimers UK recommend filling in a 'this is me' form.
Someone who has been a victim of domestic abuse and then develops dementia may find it much harder to come forward. Their experience of abuse and isolation may be increased. Dementia may also cause a victim to re-live trauma experienced by previous abuse.
Someone who had been abusive to their partner who then develops dementia may cause significant risk to the victim. They may try and exert their power and control over their partner or family member, and become more unpredictable. In these circumstances, please speak to adult social care and Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service.
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Did domestic abuse exist in the relationship before dementia
Domestic abuse is about power and control. If the person with dementia develops perceived abusive or aggressive behaviour it is likely to be considered as a symptom of their condition. If a carer becomes abusive when there was no abuse previously, carer stress should be considered. In this circumstance speak to adult social care and specialist dementia agencies.
If the person is in immediate harm as a result of abuse call the police on 999. If the person is in immediate harm in relation to their care and support needs contact the Adult Help Desk 01452 426868 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If someone with dementia is being abused or abusive
The signs of abuse are:
- physical: bruising, undue redness or discolouration of the skin (perhaps
brought about by pressure, swelling or missing hair)
- sexual: recurring urinary tract infections, agitation during personal care,
wearing more clothing to cover certain areas
- psychological: crying for no obvious reason, being anxious, withdrawn
- financial: lack of money, missing possessions, another person’s
suspicious behaviour or influence concerning money
- neglect: lack of personal hygiene, dirty clothes, failing to keep the
Start a conversation and listen and empathise, make notes as the person is talking. They may provide you the information you need straight away. Be aware that if you are speaking to the person with dementia, your conversation will be dependent on how advanced their condition is.
These are examples of some guided questions you could ask:
- Tell me a bit about your relationship, what was it like before diagnosis and what has it been like since?
- Can you tell me in more detail what happens and how you have reacted to this?
- Does it happen at particular times of day or during certain activities, for example, when going to bed or eating?
- are you on any medication? If so, when was this introduced and have there been any changes since? (if this is the case, the GP will need to see them for a medication review)
- Is this very new behaviour that has come on very suddenly?
You can also download the leaflet for dementia and domestic abuse.