Nov 12, 2009

Man with Alzheimer's Wanders to His Death in Delray Beach

Mrs J was an Alzheimer's wanderer, she is now safe. Charles Meyer was an Alzheimer's wanderer, he is now dead.....

An 82-year-old man reported as a missing Alzheimer's patient died Tuesday evening when he was struck and killed by a vehicle in suburban Delray Beach, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office said.

According to a sheriff's office report, Charles Meyer of Delray Beach was reported missing about an hour before the accident.

Meyer was walking across the intersection of Via Del Ray and South Military Trail when he was struck by a northbound 2006 Chrysler that had a green light, the report said.--Source Palm Beach Post

Back in September our own Rose Lamatt noticed a woman --Mrs J-- wandering the streets in her town. Mrs J suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Not one to sit back and watch, Rose took action. It took her a month working within the system to be get the government authorities to take the appropriate action and get Mrs J into a care facility.

During that month, Rose had the stomach and heart ache that always comes with involvement with Alzheimer's. Once Rose got involved she started to lose sleep while she worried about Mrs J.

Rose was not a personal friend of Mrs J or her family when she took action. Rose did live 14 long years caring for her friend Carol who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

More than five million people suffer from Alzheimer's, 60 percent will wander. Rose worried that something bad would happen to Mrs J.

Something bad did happen to Charles Meyer, a man who suffered from Alzheimer's disease -- he was struck by a car and is now dead.

Below you can read Rose's entire story, about her trials and tribulation in trying to get someone to take responsibility for Mrs J.

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What if Mrs. J Wanders Away and Ends Up Dead?

Rose Lamatt lived the life of an Alzheimer's caregiver for 14 years. She has witnessed Alzheimer's behaviors from every angle (see Bio below). With her eyes wide open, she is now a concerned on-looker that feels compelled to take action. She is seeking direct help or advice. Please take the time to read her article and respond.

I’m worried that Mrs. J. is going to get lost in the woods, or something worse might happen to her.
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?

Rose Lamatt


Mrs. J Might Wander But Now Someone is Watching

First, I want to thank those who posted comments below my article about Mrs. J. I truly appreciate you effort and kindness.

I believe if a community like this one can get together, surely it can happen in our own neighborhoods. I felt the pastor speaking to me last Sunday, and knew I had to follow the direction I was being led—which I did, with your help. Thank you.

Following is an update of what has transpired since I wrote the article about Mrs. J.

By Rose Lamatt

Previously--What if Mrs. J Wanders Away and Ends Up Dead?

First, I called the Alzheimer’s Association, where I heard a recording telling me to leave my name and number. Later when called back, I told the volunteer what we had noticed about Mrs. J’s behavior, and thought something should be done.

She told me the Association doesn't act in such situations, and only provides information about the disease. She suggested I call Florida Abuse Hotline (part of Children and Family Services).  I did and spoke with a woman, telling her of my concern. She asked for Mrs. J.’s phone number, address, and then asked if this person was without food or clothing. That’s when I went into my ‘rant’.

“I don’t know. Doesn’t it matter that this person is wandering the streets alone, cannot comprehend or converse, and will probably get lost in the woods or something worse?”

I was told ‘yes’ and that someone would be sent to Mrs. J.’s home. I made sure I wrote the woman’s name and ID number down before hanging up.

This morning I received a call from a man from Children and Family Services (CFS) letting me know they had checked out Mrs. J.’s situation. “A grandson will be staying with her now,” he told me.

I asked, “All the time? What happens if he needs to go out?”

“She’ll go to a family member’s home, she will ‘not’ be left alone,” he told me.

‘Hallelujah’ I shouted--I think the man thought I was nuts.

I then asked him how he knew this would not change. He said they would check in, unannounced, from time to time. I thanked him for acting so fast, and he thanked me for reporting the situation.

I’m not sure if Mrs. J. has an ID bracelet, but I ‘will’ find out. I know from experience that this type of Alzheimer’s person is going to walk, with or without her grandson there.

She reminds me so much of my friend Carol--she also suffered from Alzheimer's. I cared for Carol for 14 years. She would run out the door every chance she got, and I’d run after her.

I think my biggest regret is that the Alzheimer’s Association couldn’t handle this alone, and sent me to CFS. To me Children Families Services has too many people to watch over as it is.

However, I do believe where there is a will, there is a way, and together we can change things.

Now, I'll hope and pray that things work out for the best. Only time will tell.

Rose is Betwixt and Between over Mrs J--Mrs. J’s out wandering again

Rose Lamatt is trying as hard as he can to make sure Mrs J--the Wanderer--receives the care she needs. But now, she is frustated because the grandson doesn't really care.

I wrote the other day that I am a goal oriented guy. I am also a problem solver. Sometimes the first or second solution to a problem doesn't work. What is important is finding an effective solution to the problem. I'll put my potential solution in the comments box.

By Rose Lamatt

So now what? Is this called passing the buck, or what? Please tell me, how can we depend on government services when this sort of thing happens? Who is in charge of this fiasco? Who is responsible? The family?

After my good feelings that Children and Families were going to watch over Mrs. J. by having her grandson with her and when he’s not, she was going to go to another family member’s home, things changed all within hours. Now I again have an ache in the pit of my stomach I’m sorry to say.

The pastor called saying Mrs. J. was at the church yesterday, didn’t know what she wanted, as the other day and could not converse. The pastor told Mrs. J. to get in the car with her and she drove her home. When inside Mrs. J.’s house, she found the grandson on the couch watching TV. The pastor told him that Mrs. J. shouldn’t be out wandering, for she could get lost. The grandson simply shrugged his shoulders.

The pastor feels no one is with Mrs. J. at night, either, for she sees no car at the house other than Mrs. J.’s.

At 7:45 a.m. today no one was at Mrs. J.’s house, according to the pastor.

At 3:35 p.m. today, just off the phone with the pastor, I called Children and Families. I spoke with the same worker, as before, who had told me Mrs. J. would be cared for. I told him exactly what the pastor said, that she felt Mrs. J. was not being cared for in the right manner and I agreed. Someone needs to be with her at night. The worker said ‘someone should be with her at all times.’ I told him that didn’t seem to be happening, repeating what the pastor told me. He said that the family needs to contact the Alzheimer’s Association.

So now what? Is this called passing the buck, or what? Please tell me, how can we depend on government services when this sort of thing happens? Who is in charge of this fiasco? Who is responsible? The family? I do believe so, but when the family doesn’t own up to their responsibility, then other matters need to be taken. I’ve tried to do my part by being a caring person for my fellow human being, especially those who have Alzheimer’s. I’ve been there before, and know what can happen. If the family can’t handle it, then they need to do something else—hire a caregiver, if the grandson doesn’t do what he is supposed to, or admit Mrs. J. to a facility so she IS taken care of.

I get the impression that this family does NOT care and Mrs. J. is falling through the cracks—or should I say caverns, now.

Alzheimer's Wandering -- Mrs J No Longer Wandering the Streets Aimlessly

For those who were interested in and commented on my story about Mrs. J, the problem appears to be solved.

Rose Lamatt
Alzheimer's Reading Room

If you missed the previous stories they are listed below. Mrs. J is an elderly woman, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, who was out and wandering the streets of our town without supervision or assistance.

What if Mrs. J Wanders Away and Ends Up Dead?

Mrs. J Might Wander But Now Someone is Watching

Rose is Betwixt and Between over Mrs J--Mrs. J’s out wandering again

I learned this morning that Mrs. J. was removed from her home by the Department of Children and Families and moved to a care facility.

A court hearing will take place to decide where Mrs. J. will live in the future.
It has become very apparent that she cannot be left alone and must have reliable, constant supervision.--the Pastor.

This is good news for Mrs. J. and for me.

Now I won't have to worry about Mrs. J. getting lost in the woods or something worse happening to her. She will no longer be wandering around aimlessly and without supervision.

It took just about a month but the authorities came through on their word. I know it gives me hope that the System can work.

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.

Just a Word: friends encounter Alzheimer's

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Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room