Halifax Regional Police are trying to figure out what happened between two seniors at a home for people with dementia that resulted in the death of a 91-year-old woman.

Police were called to Evan Hall, a Shannex facility in Halifax for people with dementia, around 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

They say the 91-year-old had an altercation with a 74-year-old woman when the older woman fell and was seriously injured.  

She was taken to hospital, and died around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

“We are investigating like any other suspicious death,” said Const. Pierre Bourdages.

He said the investigation was complicated because the women had signs of dementia.

“It does bring a unique twist to the investigation. Sometimes individuals might not recall what happened.”

Unlicensed facility 

Evan Hall is just one floor of a large complex for seniors called Parkland Clayton Park.

Spokeswoman Heather Hanson said the facility is carrying out an internal investigation into the incident. She said the incident happened quickly in a common area and staff intervened quickly.

Police are calling the incident an "altercation," but Hanson calls it a "push and fall."

She said residents of Evan Hall have dementia or Alzheimer's disease, but are physically well.

The facility is unlicensed, but Hanson said it operates under assisted living standards, and has nurses and licensed staff.

"Assisted living is unlicensed in Nova Scotia, however our standards align with what is offered in this province and other provinces across the country," said Hanson.

The major crime unit is investigating. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Not the first case

Linda Bird, director of programs and services with the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, called it a sad situation.

She said people with dementia often have trouble communicating, which can frustrate them.

"Someone with dementia it's more than just memory loss. It affects your ability to think, plan, reason and to communicate," she said.

Bird said people can expect more of these cases as Canada's population ages.

In February 2011, police investigated the death of a 92-year-old woman who died at another of Shannex facility under similar circumstances.

No charges were laid.

Police said it's too early to determine what will happen in this instance.

With files from Yvonne Colbert.