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  • Jane Wheeler

My Mom - Lost in the City

My sister got a call around 6 on Sunday saying that my mom could not be found in the Care home she was in. They had called my sister, no answer, my brother, no answer and then my sister again, she answered and then she called me.

Mom is 83, has severe Alzheimer’s, and a bad knee. When we questioned the home they said she had only been gone a little while and they heard a care aid found her a block away and was bringing her back. They told my sister this. I was told the care aid called the police and they were bringing her back but she had not been gone long.

When I questioned them further they seemed to not have answers, things like ‘I did not take the call so I don’t really know” would come up. For me after the call, I knew they really did not know where my mom was or how long she had been gone. Chances are they missed her at supper, 5:00 and that was when they realized she was gone.

I got off the phone knowing that they actually did not know where mom was, it was 29 degrees outside never mind the horrible smoke that hung over the area and my mom was out in the blistering heat wandering with her bad knee and little walker in the Lower Mainland.

I proceeded to call the Police department in that area of Vancouver and chose the department closest to her building. The operator I talked to said they did have a woman matching my mom’s description turned in and the police officer had found her and called the paramedics who had taken her to the hospital. The receptionist did not know her name as yet. I tried to ask more questions but she guided me to call the hospital to confirm if it was my mom or not.

I called the hospital and after a couple of tries and getting hung up on I got through to the emergency department. They indeed did have my mom (she remembers her name) and yes she was safe. The Dr. had not seen her yet and she had only been there about 30 minutes.

I burst into tears when I knew she was safe and the intense relief that washed over me and the gratefulness that someone had found her was enormous. My fear level had been over the top as I felt so helpless to be able to help my mom. My finding her had taken less than 10 minutes. It made me so thankful to think that strangers will stop and take in the plight of other people. Without random strangers we would have lost my mom to ???

This is the 2nd time my mother has been turned in by a random stranger. It makes me think twice if I want to rush past someone who is obviously struggling.

I let my sister and brother know – my sister was already on the highway to get over to see her.

My sister found my mother resting, but seemingly calm and relaxed. She did not have on her knee brace, bra, or glasses. She had packed up her little walker with all her family pictures and she had headed out. A random passerby noticed that mom seemed confused, had called 911. Mom was found 2 kilometers away from the home. The paramedics and staff at Burnaby General were so kind to her. The Dr. had checked mom over and he was astounded at how well mom had done, although he found she did have pneumonia on top of it all.

In my heart I know that God was watching over my mom - He had to have been it is the only explanation that I have for how she got so far without her knee giving up (she has had 3 falls in her room the past 3 months), no glasses to see, she is very hard of hearing. Never mind the smoke, traffic, heat - someone or something was watching over her.

I called the Care home to let them know I found my mother. They kept insisting that mom was only gone a little while, and that she had not gone far. They were not prepared for the blast when I told them that mom was far from the home and she obviously had been gone a long time along with having pneumonia (my dad died from pneumonia – at this same home). Mom was released back to the home that night, with antibiotics for the pneumonia, she was hungry and thirsty.

I called the home the next morning and asked how mom was doing, well they must have been waiting for my call, mom was up and dressed complete with bra, glasses and knee brace. She had had her morning dose of antibiotics and they were very sorry for what happened the day before.

I accepted their apology. I told her that I was not looking for peoples jobs but that I would be reporting this incident to the management because I believed the problem was a management issue and obviously the wander guard system that was supposed to prevent people from leaving was not working, residents’ lives were in jeopardy.

Today my phone started ringing with management. There is a formal investigation into what happened and I guess we will find out – for my mom it is not too late but what about the next time for my mom or one of the other residents?

As we journey on this earth we are supposed to be God's hands and feet, helping others as we go. Please consider when you are rushing by other people on the sidewalks and you notice someone seeming a little off, please take the time to find out if they need help – you could be helping someone’s relative, like mine.

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