Sunday, August 5, 2012

What To Do?

 My back porch thermometer read 104 degrees when I left home to go grocery shopping. I took a small detour through the neighborhood, looking for houses new on the market so I can both evaluate my asking price and keep tabs on smaller houses I might consider as our next home. Driving down a nearby street, I saw an old woman sitting at the curb in the heat of the sun. It just didn't look right to me, so I stopped and asked if she needed help. And she said yes. She may have been hard of hearing, confused either by the sun or dementia, or maybe not fluent in English, but she seemed unable to put together a sentence to explain what was wrong. She appeared to be about 80 (I took her to be several years older than me) and reasonably healthy. She was carrying a sweater, a carefully folded blanket, some mail, and a wallet. When I asked her if she could stand up, she said, no. Did she want help standing? Yes. I got her to her feet, but she didn't seem to want to walk. She pointed to the nearest house when I asked where she lived, but said no when I asked if anyone was at home. I didn't have my cell phone with me, so I couldn't call for help.

Another car pulled up with a woman and a child in a car seat. We decided she would go knock on the door of the nearby house. A man answered and said yes, it was his mother. We got her into the car and drove her a couple of hundred feet to the house and her son took her in. I hope she's OK. I hope her son realized she might be dehydrated and got her to drink plenty of water. I hope they get an ID bracelet for her.

So many thoughts:
  • If I had my cell phone, I might have called 911. Then they would have incurred a bunch of medical expense and fuss and bother.
  • Maybe I should have called 911, maybe she did need medical attention.
  • Why was she carrying a blanket, her wallet, the mail?
  • Was she going to be safe at home?
  • Did I do the right thing? Should I have done more? Should I respect her privacy? Should I follow up?
  • I must never go out without my phone again!
  • It could have been me -- in fact, it was me, in a way, when I fell in April. 
  • I should have an ID bracelet.


  1. Would you have called 911 if it were a 2 year old? The concern of abuse or neglect is valid.

  2. I think the dilemma would be the same if it were a 2 year old. If the child pointed out his/her home and the mother was home, I would be inclined to think she suffered one of those lapses we have all been guilty of -- maybe she was tending to another child, distracted by a food boiling over on the stove, going to the bathroom. Tough call!

  3. It is not too late to call the police and request a wellness check. Explain the circumstances of events.
    Get an ID bracelet, it would probably be smart for all of us to have one. Her wallet may of contained the necessary info and probably is the first thing the police would look at.
    Never leave home without cell for many reasons, although we all have forgotten this handy tool on occasion.
    You stopped, how many other might have driven by.
    You listened to the "still small voice." Kudos to you, my friend.

  4. OK, I called the police to do a wellness check. They reported back that she is well, but slightly demented and has wandered before. They know about her. She lives with her two sons and one is with her at all times, but was in the shower when she left. The sons will try to keep a closer eye on her. Happy ending, sort of. I know how hard it is for the sons and I wish them well.