Alzheimer's patient, 87, killed fellow nursing home resident, police say

An 87-year-old Colorado man with Alzheimer's and dementia is accused of killing a fellow nursing home resident

An 87-year-old Colorado man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is accused of killing a fellow nursing home patient who also had Alzheimer’s.

Homer Castor was arrested Saturday on suspicion of assault after police were called to the Atria Applewood nursing home in Lakewood, west of Denver, on a report that one resident had beaten another, Lakewood police spokesman Steve Davis said.

When officers arrived, they saw the 76-year-old victim being loaded into an ambulance, Davis said.

The victim was identified as Gerald Propp, according to the Jefferson County district attorney’s office.

Propp suffered numerous facial fractures and bleeding into his brain from the assault, according to the arrest affidavit.

Propp died Monday from his injuries, according to the affidavit. Castor has been jailed since his arrest. He is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, but he has not been charged, according to the district attorney’s office.

Castor, who suffers from dementia and sixth-stage Alzheimer’s, told officers he believed Propp planned to assault him and he punched the victim numerous times, according to the affidavit. It said he also made comments about Propp trying to touch his blanket.

Alzheimer’s disease has seven stages; in the seventh, "individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement," according to the Alzheimer's Assn.

Propp was in the fourth stage of Alzheimer’s and also suffered from dementia, his wife and nursing home staff told police, the affidavit said.

Castor’s wife and Atria Applewood staff told officers that Castor has memory problems and gets confused easily, including not recognizing himself in the mirror, according to the affidavit.

The rooms of the two men were separated by a wall with a door frame but no door, according to the affidavit. The two also had a confrontation Feb. 11 that resulted in Propp being scratched, the affidavit said.

Castor has been ordered to undergo a competency evaluation at the state hospital in Pueblo, said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for this district attorney’s office.

"We were saddened to learn of the death of one of our residents," Atria Applewood said in a statement. "We extend our deepest sympathy to his family."

"Ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents is our highest priority," the nursing home said. "We are cooperating fully with the police and the Department of Public Health and Environment as they continue to review the circumstances of the incident. We are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that our residents continue to feel safe and protected in our community."

According to its website, Atria Applewood offers independent living services and a memory care program for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients.

Castor is due back in court March 2 for an advisement of charges.

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