Acts of Kindness
Officers find missing grandma with dementia and escort her home in the sweetest way
The police officers helped turn a frightening situation into a heartwarming one they'll never forget.
Kate Miano
09.27.22

Dementia is difficult, and people around the individual who has it don’t always know how to help. But there are ways to help out and make the person with dementia feel better. A group of police officers in Maryland showed how to help out a person with dementia in a respectful and heartwarming way.

After a distressed 911 call, five police officers went to go find a missing woman.

Roberta is an 81-year old woman who lives in Maryland with her daughter, her granddaughter, and her great-granddaughter. It’s part of her routine that she will take a daily walk to the end of their driveway. She had dementia, so she needs exercise and stimulation, but she also needs to be supervised during these trips.

Unsplash - Danie Franco
Source:
Unsplash - Danie Franco

Roberta’s daughter is used to her mother going to the end of the driveway and then turning around and coming home. But that day, her daughter realized too late that her mother had decided to keep walking. She was already out of sight, so her daughter felt she had no choice but to call the police.

Unsplash - Max Fleischmann
Source:
Unsplash - Max Fleischmann

She phoned 911 and told them that her mother had dementia, so they understood that this required more care than usual.

It took the officers 40 minutes to find her in the woods.

Unsplash - Steven Kamenar
Source:
Unsplash - Steven Kamenar

The officers, including Sgt. Clarence Black and Officer Brandon Morrison, walked down the road for a while before they found someone that could be her. When they saw her, they shouted her name, and she called back, so they knew they had the right person. But to complicate matters, Roberta seemed very confused. That’s a standard symptom of dementia, but it requires a lot of care and sensitivity.

Facebook - Charles County Sheriff's Office
Source:
Facebook - Charles County Sheriff's Office

Officer Black describes her state when they found her by telling TODAY:

“I shouted her name and she yelled back, so we both ran toward her…When we got to her, she had branches in her hair that we had to pull out and was confused as to why we were there.”

The way that the officers treated this older woman inspired a bonding moment between them all.

Because Roberta was dealing with some memory issues, the officers wanted to be highly sensitive with her. Roberta asked them if they were also taking a walk, and they decided to go along with that. She then told them that she was a little lost and asked them to help her get home. The officers were more than happy to comply.

Facebook - Charles County Sheriff's Office
Source:
Facebook - Charles County Sheriff's Office

The officers wanted to put Roberta at ease, so they made small talk with her the whole way. They set back to Roberta’s house and managed to have a delightful conversation in the meantime.

The life advice that Roberta gave these officers is priceless.

What started as a regular day on the job turned into a moment to learn for all the officers. They asked Roberta her secret to a long and happy life and she let them in on some knowledge. Roberta encouraged the officers to “eat well and stay active” and they were grateful to hear what she had to say.

The officers were there to do their jobs, but they realized that this moment was important for them too.

There is nothing like spending quality time with your elders. The older adults in our lives can tell us so much about what they’ve learned, and they often have wonderful stories to share.

Officer Morrison was there that day, and he understands how special the moment they had was. He says:

“It was cool to talk to someone that old who has experienced a lot of life and now lives with four generations…I’m really close with my grandma, so I was intrigued by her story.”

It’s a heartwarming moment, and plenty of people are pleased at this story.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office posted a picture of the moment on their Facebook page, telling the story of what happened. Dementia touches a lot of people’s lives, so many people appreciated hearing about the kind and dignified way the officers treated Roberta.

One person commented:

“Thank you for joining her on her journey and taking a calm and natural approach. What could have been a very scary and threatening situation for the woman with dementia turned into a pleasant stroll home with some nice young men. Thank you for treating her with dignity and respect and treating her as a person, not as her disease.”

Dementia can be a confusing experience for the people afflicted by it and for those around them. These officers did the right thing by treating Roberta with patience and respect and allowing her to get home in a way that maintained her sense of agency.

Watch the video below to see another touching story about officers helping a lost senior!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Kate Miano
[email protected]
Kate Miano is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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