Police in Chandler, Arizona, are investigating the murder of an 81-year-old woman early Sunday morning, as her grandson has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder.
The 30-year-old grandson, identified as Brandon Smith, said he was the only person taking care of his grandmother, Helen Smith, who suffered from dementia, according to Fox 10.
Police were called Sunday morning around 3:30 a.m. to an apartment complex near Loop 100 and Chandler Boulevard in Chandler, Arizona. During the 9-1-1 call, dispatch was told that Smith’s grandmother was not breathing, and that it looked as if someone had hurt her, and sliced her throat.
Arriving on the scene, officers found a woman dead. During the investigation, officers were quickly led to the victim’s grandson, who was taken into custody soon after.
Smith said he did not want his grandmother to continue living in pain and suffering. In anger, he cut her throat with a knife while she was in the bathtub.
Locals commented on Fox 10’s Twitter post, appalled at the murder by her own grandson.
“Geez,” a local wrote. “Poor lady was completely helpless, what a terribly sad story.”
Dementia describes memory loss severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Memory loss can be combined with loss in ability to focus and pay attention, as well as loss in vision and communication skills. People with dementia often have problems keeping track of purses or wallets, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, taking medication and traveling.
The disorder begins slowly at first but often progresses to severity quickly. A full time caretaker is necessary for the safety of a dementia patient, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, which also says that caregivers of dementia patients report experiencing high levels of stress.
Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, and too much stress can be harmful. Community resources are available for caregivers as well as adult day programs, in-home assistance, visiting nurses and meal delivery services. Support groups for caregivers are available in many towns as well as online, giving caregivers a community to fall back on in times of need or burnout.
Nursing homes and memory care facilities are available for patients whose caregivers can no longer take care of them due to the severity of the illness. Many options for dementia care are available for patients and caregivers alike.
Helen Smith’s grandson is still in custody, and will likely be charged with the premeditated murder of his grandmother.