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Our View: One dark side of dementia

More cases of dementia-related criminal charges are coming before the court. 

Outside of an Alberta courtroom last week, a lawyer addressed the dangers that come with our ever-aging population.

The lawyer was defending an elderly Rocky View County woman charged with the attempted murder of her husband, and said incidents involving individuals with dementia may become more commonplace.

The 73-year-old accused woman is currently undergoing a 30-day assessment to determine if she is fit to stand trial. She was arrested on Jan. 31 after Cochrane RCMP was called to her home.

Her husband was taken to hospital with a serious injury and required surgery. Upon waking up he wanted to speak to his wife, but was unable to due to a no-contact court order.

This isn’t the first case in Alberta involving a homicide where the accused was suffering from dementia. A case in 2016 saw an elderly man not deemed fit to stand trial for the homicide of his wife.

With cases like these on the rise, how well is our justice system prepared?

Alberta announced a dementia strategy and action plan in 2017, but reports say Alberta’s medical system is ill-prepared for the influx of people dealing with dementia.

While aging at home is being encouraged due to the rapidly growing older demographic and there not being enough beds to take care of them, this is clearly a risk we will have to deal with.

Experts say Alberta desperately needs to increase beds, improve facilities and boost staffing hours as demand for care beds is projected to more than double by 2030.

People are quick to write off dementia as an elderly problem, but it affects everyone when pushed to the extreme like in these homicide cases. No family should have to deal with these tragic situations.

Will the necessary care catch up with the demand?

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