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It was about a year ago that I took my mother shopping for what is now our infamous trip to Macy’s. We had a family vacation planned and she wanted to purchase some new clothing for the trip. (Disclaimer: She used to love to shop; I loathing shopping.) The issue came down to three factors:
- We needed to enter the store closest to the women’s department due to her lack of stamina.
- She had never wandered away from me in a public place.
- All the handicapped parking spaces were taken.
I parked about three rows back, left instructions for my mother to wait directly inside the doors for me, and darted immediately into the store.
Unease crawled over my body and stuck to me like honey bees finding an open jar of molasses.
I learned some important things that day. First, many stores have a security code specifically for those with dementia. It alerts other staff and the security without frightening the individual. If you are with a friend or family member and they wander, ask for help immediately. If you see someone who looks confused or disoriented, engage them in conversation. Find out, gently, if they need help. Offer to take them to a sales clerk.
Enlist the help of friends or family. I knew who I could contact that would respond immediately. Everyone should have what I call a ‘short list’: they offer to help first, ask questions later. They encourage and give wise counsel. They are available during emergencies. Each person responded quickly, and offered useful, constructive suggestions. They also talked me down off the ledge, I should add.
I initially wrote this blog for a woman named Hellen Hunt who suffered from Alzheimer’s. For continuity, I have included the original story at the end of this blog.
I have to regretfully inform each of you that the authorities believe they have located Hellen’s body in a nearby pond, one of several theories they were considering. I will include some comments from their Facebook page below. Thank you to each person who shared Hellen’s story in any way. You would want it done for your loved one, and each of you are wonderful and giving people.
Thank you all for your help and support the last 29 days. The family will change some of the campaign based on the results of the DNA test. We thank everyone again for all their help and support and especially thank the news for your continued coverage. Hellen has been an example of the dangers of Alzheimer’s and the awareness she has provided will hopefully save future families from going through this. We love and thank all our family and friends- COOK FAMILY.
I have since learned how fortunate I was to locate my mother. It was a lengthy search that involved most of the staff at Macy’s (thank you again!!). Not every search for an Alzheimer’s patient ends so well. I am asking for your help for a search for a woman named Hellen Cook who is missing. You can find details on the Facebook page created for her by clicking on the link provided for you. They have also created a Twitter account that you can follow by clicking here.