How At Risk Are People With Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 5.4 million people in the United States, including approximately 200,000 people who have early-onset Alzheimer’s. With the nation’s aging population, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase dramatically in the decades ahead. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people age 65 and older diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to reach 7.1 million by 2025 and to nearly triple to 13.9 million by 2050. Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s highest range projections for population growth, the number of people with Alzheimer would reach 16 million people by 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is a progressive disease that leads to devastating changes to personality, memory and other mental functions. Dealing with an elderly person who has dementia can be exceptionally difficult. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases dramatically with age, and older women are at greater risk than men. More than a third of people age 83 and older have Alzheimer’s disease. Almost two thirds of the people who have Alzheimer’s disease are women.

Newer medications and strategies for managing care are often capable of slowing the progress of the disease, and in some cases, can temporarily alleviate symptoms, but there is no known cure. Unless medical breakthroughs occur that prevent or cure the disease, the number of people with Alzheimer’s will increase significantly in Kentucky and throughout the U.S. as more people live into their 80s and 90s.

Projected Number of People 65 and Older with Alzheimer’s Disease

State 2016 2025 Percentage change
Kentucky 69,000 86,000 24.6%
Ohio 210,000 250,000 19%
Indiana 110,000 130,000 18.2%
Tennessee 110,000 140,000 27.3%


Patients who are suffering from dementia are at greater risk of abuse or neglect than other segments of the elderly population. The most common forms of elder abuse inflicted upon those with dementia are:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Neglect and Self-Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Financial Exploitation

The National Center on Elder Abuse, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reports that instances of elder abuse have now reached epidemic proportions, with between 1 – 2 million elderly people suffering from abuse.

Staggering Rates of Elder Abuse Among Dementia Patients

Three studies of dementia patients revealed that the reported rate of abuse ranged from 34% to 64%. An American study found rates of abuse of people with dementia at 47%. The study established that dementia greatly increases the risk of abuse or neglect. Nearly ONE in TWO people with dementia experiences some type of abuse by others, according to the University of California, Irvine Center on Elder Abuse and Neglect.

Three categories of abuse, as reported by caregivers for people with dementia, were shown to be the most common.

Elderly persons suffering from dementia can exhibit various symptoms and behaviors that make them more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The burden or perceived burden upon the caregiver is one element of the situation.

Those with dementia can exhibit both psychological and physical aggression toward either professional caregivers or family members. This aspect of the disease creates a scenario in which abuse is more likely to occur.

Certain psychological factors are associated with abuse by caregivers of people with dementia:

  • Caregiver’s anxiety level
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Lack of social contacts
  • Perceived burden
  • Emotional instability

Many caregivers were found to be suffering from depression or some form of anxiety, and these caregivers are reported to be much more likely to engage in abuse. Factors such as a lower level of education and a lack of social connections were discovered to make a caregiver statistically more likely to engage in some form of elder abuse. Half of the elders who were cared for at home by a family member were revealed to be the victim of some type of elder abuse.

At the Becker Law Office in Louisville, we are committed to seeking justice for those who cannot speak for themselves. If your loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home or by a private caregiver provided by an agency, legal action should be taken at once. Our elderly citizens deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and the accepted standard of care in all medical treatment. We are zealous advocates for justice for those who have been preyed upon by abusive caregivers, and as litigators, our goal is to hold them accountable. Connect with our firm for more information.