In my local newspaper there was a sad story about a man with Alzheimer’s who wandered away in the middle of the night and walked a few miles from his home. He ended up at the front door of someone’s house at around 4 a.m., where he proceeded to ring the doorbell multiple times and turned the doorknob. The residents, who had just moved into the home recently, were understandably freaked out and did the right thing by calling 911. But then the male in the house did exactly the wrong thing. He stepped outside with a gun and when he saw the approaching figure, who was now in the yard, he told the person to stop. The person did not obey his orders and kept coming towards him. The resident shot the man in the yard and killed him.
Once the resident discovered that the intruder was actually an elderly man with advanced Alzheimer’s, he felt great remorse. Of course, the family of the man with Alzheimer’s also have to live with the violent and senseless way their loved one died. The police have not charged the man with gun yet, saying while it was foolish to go outside, he did not break any laws.
It’s a sad case all around but one that I unfortunately can see happening more in the future. It is easy for those who have never cared for a loved one with Alzheimer’s to criticize the family for allowing him to escape into the cold night, but we know how difficult it is to keep watch over someone with dementia 24/7. And those with Alzheimer’s may not be cooperative and act odd, even violent, scaring a stranger into taking drastic measures in order to protect themselves. Anti-gun advocates will want to blame weapons in the home, but it still goes back to the person and how they react in a situation.
I think about the several times my dad wandered off and how he could have ended up like this gentleman. It’s a sobering lesson for all of us.