Saturday, December 8, 2012

Protecting Your Elderly Parents

A few nights ago, I was coming out of my home in New York when I noticed an elderly couple standing in the cold near one of my neighbor's homes.  I immediately noticed that both the man and woman were only wearing sweaters despite it being around 37 degrees outside.  I also noticed the man, who was a big guy despite apparently being in his mid-80's, was clutching to a four-pronged walking cane. I then noticed his wife, who had one arm on his hip, was wearing slippers.

So I immediately raced over to them because I knew something was wrong.

As I got closer, I noticed their skin was very pale: they had to be outside for some time.

So I said 'Hello.  My name is Peter. Are you okay?"

They smiled but didn't say a word back.

"Do you speak English?"

The man smiled before his wife said 'Very little," in her Russian voice.

I smiled, and asked where they lived.

The woman provided me with several street names, but did not provide any street address.

I asked if either had any identification.  They did not.  And I was careful to make sure they didn't.

So, here I was with this elderly couple who clearly was freezing, lost, confused, and who may have been suffering from dementia.

I suddenly noticed the  elderly gentlemen, Leo, began to shift his body, so I grabbed him before he fell.

Soon after, I brought them into my home, where I made sure to immediately give them hot tea with a lot of honey. As I prepared some minestrone soup for them, I could not think how important it is for children to ensure their elderly parents' safety.

While preparing the soup, I went down a long check list of questions in hope I might find out their last names (they gave their American version of their much longer Russian last name), a phone number (they did not have a cell phone - which is so important for all elderly people to carry), they did not know the names of their doctors, and they did not know the telephone number of their son.

My next line of questioning involved trying to identify what their house looks like.  At the time, I also called the NYPD and requested some assistance, particularly since these two elderly folks may have been reported as missing by their family.

As I waited for the NYPD to arrive, I made sure the couple was warm.  Then I got this idea on how I can find their home: I will use Google Map Search.

And so, I brought up a map of the community, and street by street I showed them pictures of the houses on Google Maps.

Wouldn't you know it - but I actually found their house - as soon as they saw their home, they both quickly pointed to the computer screen.

Well, after making sure they ate two full bowls of my minestrone soup, I called the NYPD, let them know i located the couple's home, ans was taking them there.  Apparantly, no missing person report had been filed.

So I got them in my car and drove them home.  They were very thankful, and I was more than relieved that the key the women had worked, and opened the door to her house.

After helping them get into their home, and letting them know I would be back the following day (yesterday: which I did), I left their home thankful that I had come out of my home when I did because this couple was lost.   And yesterday I was able to track down family members of theirs who will be mindful that the couple had a little walk-about.

In light of what happened, I wanted to share how important it is that the children of elderly parents take precautionary steps to ensure their safety.  Elderly people should have written down somewhere in their wallet or purse their address and telephone number of an emergency contact.  I think providing a cell phone to your parents and programming several phone number in it is also important.

The other day was pretty scary.  I could not help but think of my own grandfather, who suffered from dementia and Alzheimer's disease before he passed.

Please take precautionary steps to ensure your elderly parents' safety in whatever way you think they may need assistance. And remember, don't wait for an emergency or problem to occur before you act.