A 95-year-old man reportedly suffering from dementia has been arrested in London on suspicion of murder after his carer was killed.
The 61-year-old woman was taken from the man’s flat in north London to hospital suffering from head injuries but died just over three hours later, and the man was arrested but granted bail.
“He has been taken to hospital as a precaution due to a pre-existing condition where he will remain pending transfer to a location where his complex health and care needs can be managed,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement on the case, adding that officers were not seeking any other person in connection with the investigation. The statement and media reports contained no detail on how the woman may have sustained her injuries.
Neighbours of the man and other sources told the Daily Mail and other news outlets that they believed the man, who was frail and used a walking stick, suffered from dementia and normally had a carer looking after him, with occasional visits from family members as well. The dead woman was reportedly working for a care agency that provides services to the man’s local council. Neighboured reported hearing a scream from his flat, and police were called, who discovered the injured woman.
Police did not suggest that the incident was related to the man’s dementia. But a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that one-third of people caring for a relative with dementia regularly experienced some form of verbally abusive behaviour from their loved one, and almost six per cent reported experiencing physical abuse.
And a 2014 survey of more than 1,000 UK care workers found that those working with people with dementia were the most likely to be physically assaulted by their client.
Aggression is a relatively common symptom of dementia, because dementia-related changes to the brain can cause dramatic personality shifts. “They may act in an aggressive or upsetting manner,” the journal study published in 2009 said. “A gentle, quiet person might start shouting or using bad language, completely out of character.”