In less than a month, two nursing home residents have been killed by police wielding Taser guns. The first incident took place in late July in the Victory Center of Park Forest nursing home here in Chicago. In that instance a resident was shot with a Taser gun as well as bean bag rounds after he refused transport to the hospital for a treatment he didn’t want.
The latest incident also took place in July, although the resident only died recently. His death was determined to be from complications of the injuries he suffered. The resident, an Asian American, was confronted by police in his nursing home. According to police, the man had a knife that he was using to gesture towards his own throat when the shot him with the Taser.
The nursing home hasn’t released any statement on the incident except to say that they felt that the staff “responded quickly and appropriately at the time of the incident by immediately contacting the local authorities for assistance.”
Is this a trend? Or two isolated incidents?
Nursing home residents may not be able to respond to immediate commands due to physical or psychological infirmity. Alzheimer’s disease, for example is a terribly debilitating condition. Victims of the disease experience symptoms that would have anyone in a state of agitation and confusion. Paranoia is a common reaction.
Wielding a taser gun when such patients refuse to cooperate is simply not going to work. Nursing home staff need the time to build a trusting relationship with their residents, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and other mentally diminishing conditions.
A nursing home staff member who has built a relationship of trust with a resident can calm and control a situation using that trust. When nursing homes are understaffed, those relationships are never established, and situation that might be managed get out of hand.