I’m worried that Mrs. J. is going to get lost in the woods, or something worse might happen to her.
Mrs. J. lost in Alzheimer’s
By Rose Lamatt
I can’t find it ….. Mrs. J. told the pastor of the church I attend.
Sunday I went to church as usual and at the service the pastor told us of her concerns about one of our members, Mrs. J., and asked for our prayers in her behalf.
Mrs. J’s husband passed away suddenly a few months ago. We had been told she had Alzheimer’s almost a year ago, but she continues to live alone even since her husband’s death.
The pastor lives just a few blocks from Mrs. J. and said she sees her many times a day, walking alone, with no apparent destination. Within just the past few days there were two events that indicates apparent worsening of Mrs. J.’s memory.
Mrs. J was observed by the pastor trying to get into the different office doors of the church-- they were locked. The pastor went over to her and told her there was no church service that day.
Still seeming confused, Mrs. J. walked back to the parsonage with the pastor, saying "I can’t find it." Thinking she meant her home, the pastor told her that this was the pastor’s home, and pointed in the direction of Mrs. J.’s home, saying that was the way to her home. Mrs. J. walked away, going in the opposite direction of her own home.
Another day the pastor was in the middle of a meeting of church officials when Mrs. J. came walking into the meeting as it was in progress. When asked if she needed help, she didn’t respond and just stood there, not even accepting a seat she was offered. She left when she was told there was a business meeting going on.
Mrs. J. had been the pianist and choir director at our church until she continued to have so much trouble she was unable to continue in either job.
It was at that time that the pastor had told the membership of Mrs. J’s condition. I had already noticed that she was having a hard time “leading or directing” herself most of the time. Having been a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s sufferer; I recognized that “faraway” Alzheimer’s look of confusion.
At times when I saw Mrs. J. in church, I would make it a point to say hello. I knew she recognized my face, but couldn’t say the word ‘hello’. She’d touch my cheeks with her hands and give me a beautiful smile. I knew she ‘knew’ me, just couldn’t speak the words.
Now when I go to the post office, or to the small store at the corner, I see her walking the streets. She is always alone and has a different walk, a fast-looking-for-something walk—a lost walk. I've seen that before also.
After her husband passed away, I’d see cars in her driveway, and the house being fixed up. My thought was her children are fixing to sell it, and Mrs. J. would go to an Alzheimer’s facility. But, that has not happened.
When we were told Sunday to pray for Mrs. J. the pastor said that her family is apparently in denial of her disease.
We live in a very rural area, lots of ponds, lakes, woods, and animals: alligators, fox, and even small black bears. When I heard the pastor tell of Mrs. J. on Sunday, my stomach turned and I knew I had to do something. But what? Who do I call? The Alzheimer’s Association?
From what the pastor said, Mrs. J. has a lawyer and police officer as members of the family. Why are they not seeing to Mrs. J’s needs? They’ve hired someone to come in a few hours a day to ‘help’ her, but who is watching Mrs. J. all the other hours of day and night—where she goes and when?
I’m afraid Mrs. J. is going to get lost in the woods, or something worse might happen to her.
When I lived in Palm Beach County before the hurricanes, I remembered a woman getting lost in the woods and wasn’t found for days. I don’t want this to happen to Mrs. J. or anyone else, so I’m asking for your help.
I’m in Geneva, Florida, northeast of Orlando. Who should I contact outside of the family?
How, or who can deal with the family--they apparently are not open to suggestions?
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Rose Lamatt is an author and a citizen journalist. Rose first learned about Alzheimer's while caring for her dear friend Carol for 14 years. Rose is experienced in adult day care, assisted living, and Alzheimer's support. Her wealth of experience led her to write Just a Word--Friends Encounter Alzheimer's. Rose is a writer/contributer to the Alzheimer's Reading Room.Original content Rose Lamatt, Alzheimer's Reading Room