Help, I’m lost in Macy’s and I can’t get out – Updated

Please see updates below

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:

  1. We needed to enter the store closest to the women’s department due to her lack of stamina.
  2. She had never wandered away from me in a public place.
  3. 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.

There is currently no procedure in place for locating a missing adult with dementia that would be similar to an Amber Alert.

Hellen Cook

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21 thoughts on “Help, I’m lost in Macy’s and I can’t get out – Updated

  1. Overwhelmed By Joy August 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm Reply

    I have never asked for this before, but would you consider doing one of the following: reblog this post and/or share the Facebook page or Twitter profile? Thanks so much. God bless.


    • Ray Burow August 11, 2013 at 8:58 pm Reply

      Done! (facebook page)


  2. Anywhere But Here | StoneLeaf & Co. August 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm Reply

    […] by the Grace of God that this is not my mother or your mother. Please check out what Overwhelmed by Joy has to say and then come […]


  3. writerwannabe763 August 6, 2013 at 9:36 pm Reply

    No, we don’t have similar to Amber alert but our news broadcasters are very good about putting it on the news… not the best but it does help.. Diane


    • Overwhelmed By Joy August 6, 2013 at 10:29 pm Reply

      I agree, the local media has done a good job getting the word out. The difficulty in Hellen’s situation is that she was at her vacation home and disappeared in just a few minutes. Until they locate her, it is impossible to determine what she would think was ‘home’. One possibility is that a truck driver thought he was doing her a favor and drove her across state lines because her trace ends abruptly. I’m still praying for a good outcome.


  4. lorisprayercloset August 7, 2013 at 10:18 am Reply

    So timely that I read this, a friend who works in a carehome with Alzheimer’s patients just had one escape night before last. It was mass chaos when she got to work as you can imagine. They sent police dogs out and finally found her in a couple’s garage where she spent the night. I am so glad it was a happy ending. Others not so. I will pray they find this lady!


    • Overwhelmed By Joy August 7, 2013 at 10:55 am Reply

      I’m so glad to hear that ended on such a good note! If you think of it, please pray for the family. They anticipate an answer today, but nothing has been announced yet.


  5. Five Quick Minutes August 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm Reply

    I thank you for this story! It’s very good that you could find your mother. I am only beginning to be introduced to the trying and difficult tasks of watching after an Alzheimer’s patient.

    This is so timely that I am reblogging it on my site! I hope that is alright with you! Take care and I hope this poor woman is found…



    • Overwhelmed By Joy August 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for helping in the search for her! I should add that I don’t know her or any of her family. I do know how quickly it can happen without warning.


      • Five Quick Minutes August 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

        Yes it can be that they “get away” from us very quickly. Hope this re-posting will help, and thank you for sharing your experience!



  6. Five Quick Minutes August 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Five Quick Minutes… and commented:
    An IMPORTANT notice! Need your help with this…


    • Overwhelmed By Joy August 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm Reply

      Thank you!


      • Five Quick Minutes August 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

        My pleasure…I was “overwhelmed” with the timing of the story! Good job.



  7. stuffitellmysister August 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm Reply

    Wow….so frightening! We do have “Silver Alerts” here(that puts it on the news/radio/highway signs and phone alerts) ….but as far as the locking down of a store, etc….as in an Amber alert, not yet. I am SOOOO glad to read this blog to realize how very necessary this is! Thank you! ♥ paula


    • Overwhelmed By Joy August 11, 2013 at 7:19 am Reply

      I agree. They are still looking for Hellen. I purchased a bracelet for my mother this week – finally. It is soft plastic so it won’t tear her skin. (Cellulitis is a common problem at this stage.) That will protect her if we are out somewhere together and she wanders. After the first incident at the facility, they will put a device on her wrist that will automatically lock all doors if she attempts to leave. Those are bandages for a much larger problem, but I am hopeful this unfortunate situation will bring about some real changes. Thank you for helping to spread the word. They are still doing a national search for her.


      • stuffitellmysister August 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

        It is now being shared through social media. That should really assist in getting the word out.

        GREAT idea with the soft plastic bracelet! ♥


  8. Melissmor September 4, 2013 at 7:16 am Reply

    You know, it’s absolutely great you brought this to light, most times we aren’t aware of situations that we don’t directly experience, information as such, brings awareness, education and an increased alertness to assist others, if not ourselves who require help. Whether it’s a stranger or a really close friend, we are our brother’s/sister’s keeper!


  9. annetbell November 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm Reply

    Many thanks for the follow. I am so glad you found me! Your posts are so topical and very current. I am looking forward to reading it! Namaste. . . .


  10. barbarastanley November 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm Reply



  11. barbarastanley November 13, 2013 at 7:45 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Common Sense in an uncommon world and commented:
    Reblogging for a friend and praying they find Helen.


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