Building community to prevent dementia-related tragedies

This story out of Alabama is tragic on so many levels. Neighbors called police to perform a wellness check on an elderly couple, one who has dementia. The neighbors reported not seeing the couple for months. When the police arrived, they saw the woman who has dementia moving about the home. Through a window they could see her husband, clearly deceased, on a bed. When the police gained access to the home, they found the woman with dementia in poor health, and two dogs that they believed starved to death. Authorities believe the woman lived with her dead husband in that home for at least a month.

holding hands

We must strengthen our communities to prevent heartbreaking tragedies like these from happening. In our modern society, it seems we have discarded a true sense of community. I keep to myself and do not socialize with neighbors; I live in a big city and while the neighbors seem harmless enough and I speak to them in passing, urban life tends not to encourage close neighborly relations. I did spend an hour tracking down my neighbors across the street to let them know they had left the trunk of their car wide open, so I’m not completely cold-hearted. I work from home so I naturally observe the routines of my neighbors. If I knew I had a neighbor with dementia, I think I would pay more attention. Of course, people have a right to privacy so communities can’t advertise who has dementia even if it is to provide assistance.

I’m not sure what the answer is but there does need to be more safety nets for our elderly population. Not everyone has children or a group of close friends or family members to check up on them. We shouldn’t let these people fall through the cracks, and end up in tragic situations like what occurred in Alabama.

Does your community offer any programs that check-in on seniors to make sure they are safe?

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3 Comments

Filed under Awareness & Activism

3 responses to “Building community to prevent dementia-related tragedies

  1. This happened to me and I decided to get involved. The other neighbors did not. I’ve been involved with my neighbor for almost a year now and I do not regret it. We all need to build the community you are talking about even if it’s just one person at a time.

  2. This is really sad. We do help out our immediate neighbors (3 homes specifically). Two of them are elderly. We’re the ones who help them out and check on them. I think my husband and I should check into assisted living facilities for when our health starts to fail. We have no one else. I do wish our society had more involved communities. I wish I could find a church that feels like home to me, but none of them do.

    • That’s great that you help out your neighbors. As Neighbor Nancy mentioned in her comment on this post, it takes one person at a time helping others to build community, so you are doing your part!

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