Towards the end of 2018, I published a post celebrating the goodness that abounds all around us. Starting today and every Wednesday in 2019 I will post a Good News story I will have recently unearthed that I feel just might make your day…you know…to balance out all the bad news that permeates our world. I hope you enjoy my efforts at bringing a little light your way.
The first Good News story of 2019 spotlights a very generous person who hails from the greater Seattle area of Washington state. Last year, Alan Naiman, an extremely frugal social worker, learned he had terminal cancer and knowing he had very few months in which to live, decided to make a difference in the lives of many after he left this world as we know it. Please click on the link I have provided to read a very brief story about this fine person who, knowing you can’t take it with you, left what he had amassed to benefit others.
I addressed some of the issues of Driving under the influence of dementia in an article I wrote in November 2013. Back then I hadn’t planned on writing a Part 2 for this article, but after a couple local incidents involving DUI of dementia, I must provide the following.
Yesterday afternoon in a suburb of Seattle (in Bellevue), an 89-year old woman with early stage Alzheimer’s left her house for her normal daily routine of going to her favorite pancake house, then to several retail locations. She never returned home last night and as of today, she is still considered missing. I hope the outcome of her case is better than that of another elderly person with Alzheimer’s who also went on a brief errand, but never came home. (Update as of 12/28/13 6:45 pm: this woman was found safe approximately 16 hours after she first left her home. She was found 20 miles away from home. Unfortunately, she wandered 20 miles away from her normal driving area.)
On Saturday, December 21, 2013, Joseph Douret left his Seattle area home (in Issaquah), to grab dinner. He was reported missing the next day by his wife who stated that he never came home the previous evening when he left to grab some dinner for the two of them. Mr. Douret, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, was found dead in his vehicle on Christmas Eve. Police indicated that he appeared to have died of natural causes.
Taking away the keys to a vehicle – or getting rid of the vehicle as need be – are both very difficult tasks, but these are tasks that must take place if a loved one with dementia still has access to their automobile. “But he/she is only driving a few blocks to pick up a couple items; there’s no way he/she will get lost.” Unfortunately, what should be a routine drive can become a death journey because nothing is routine for the person with a brain addled by dementia. Nothing looks normal or familiar; the anxiety ratchets up several notches; panic sets in; and the countdown begins for that person’s last hours of life on earth. Even if the person is eventually found safe, he or she will have endured a very uncomfortable time emotionally and physically. The positive outcome of that incident, however, is that it will most likely be the catalyst that spurs people on to remove all driving options from their loved one.
Please make the decision today to take action and do the responsible thing on behalf of the person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Early Sunday morning, April 7, 2013, a man fell while riding down an escalator to one of the downtown Seattle Metro bus tunnels. His shirt got tangled in the teeth at the base of the escalator, and unable to free himself from the jaws of death, he died of strangulation. I don’t know about you, but of all the possible scenarios surrounding my fear of dying, I can’t imagine experiencing that type of violent death.
What rivals the tragedy of this man’s death is the way the local media treated the incident. Local television news outlets of ABC, NBC, CBS; and primary newspapers Seattle Times and Seattle PI; all felt it was very important for us viewers and readers to know that surveillance video showed that the man staggered onto the escalator; and that an opened bottle of brandy was found in his back pocket. Oh, I see, it’s the man’s fault for being strangled to death by the escalator on which he was riding. Perhaps, then, a better title for my article should be Suicide by Escalator.
The deceased, Maurecio Bell, forty-two years old, was a father of four, a brother, and a son. Many family members are mourning this horrific death which was caught on surveillance video – of course – so that all of us newshounds would be able to witness him die right before our eyes. David Bell, the victim’s father, stated that anyone could have been strangled in that escalator regardless of the circumstances, e.g., someone could have had a stroke or a heart attack and have met the same type of end. Or, speaking for myself, maybe someone as clumsy as me could have lost his or her balance, fallen, and been strangled in a similar fashion.
Why did the media decide to focus on this man’s possible inebriation? Like it or not, doing so turns ones attention to that extremely irrelevant element of the tragedy rather than on the real tragedy of the circumstances.
And here’s something else for you to ponder. For those of you who do not live in my state of Washington, let me tell you something else that was seen on the surveillance video. A few people walked right past this man and did nothing to assist him. Eventually a passerby tried to free the man and when unable to do so, he pushed the emergency stop button and then attempted to revive the man with CPR. By then, of course, it was too late. Surveillance video showed that immediately upon getting caught up into the teeth of the steps, the victim struggled briefly and within moments, his body went limp. At least it was an almost instant death, but it was a fearsome and painful one, regardless of how quick.
Isn’t an accidental death, an accident? Isn’t that the point of this story? Why should any blame be apportioned to the victim when it has already been determined that it’s a strong possibility that the escalator in question might have some unattended service issues. But I’m not going to blame the escalator or the maintenance crew for that escalator, and I’m certainly not going to blame the decedent.
Maurecio Bell was a victim who did not deserve to die in this manner and should not have had his character besmirched in the process. First and foremost, Maurecio was a human being; one of Earth’s short-lived inhabitants.
Rest in peace Mr. Bell. I’m sorry your life ended at such a young age.
In Washington State, there are currently 150,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. In the rest of the Nation, more than 5 million have Alzheimer’s disease. That number will jump to 16 million by the year 2050. Most of us envision an elderly person with some sort of dementia. We might even expect it to occur in those 85 or older. Listen to me Baby Boomers – young and not-so-young – the number of people diagnosed before the age of 65 – known as early-onset Alzheimer’s – is more common than you think. In the United States alone, those with early-onset disease currently number 200,000.
That number decreased by one when my exceptional sister-in-law died on July 4, 2012 at the age of 69. Just about the time that Baby Boomers should be anxiously making their final retirement plans – such as was the case with my brother and his wife – they are instead dealing with the challenges of managing a disease for which there is no cure.
Sixty-four year old Lon Cole, a resident of Puyallup, Washington, is one of the 200,000. The local NBC affiliate, King5 in Seattle, Washington, ran a touching story about this gentleman. I hope you will take the time to look at this news article: Alive and Thankful: Living with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Those who have managed, or are currently managing, the care of a loved one with early-onset disease, will be touched by this family’s story.