When 80-year-old Jerry Ellingsen arrived with just himself and his dog at Denver Airport, he had no idea where he was or why he was there. He began wandering around aimlessly until police found him and starting questioning him—but he didn’t know how to answer those questions either.
“He was very confused about general details of his life to include where he was at, where he was coming from, who he was coming to visit and his family members’ names,” one Denver police officer said.
You see, Jerry has Alzheimer’s disease. He was living with his brother and nephew in Southwest Florida, but they eventually sent him to his daughter Pamela’s house. However, she was the one who eventually put him on the one-way flight to Denver.
She was sending Jerry to his estranged wife’s place in order to “get rid of him” because she was “done with him.” Pamela had sent the wife a text that read: “My dad and Corky [the dog] will arrive on a flight in Denver tomorrow afternoon.”
When police found Jerry, they tried calling both Pamela and his estranged wife, but both refused take him in. So they were forced to bring him to a local hospital for care.
Hospitals are under a legal obligation to take in people such as Jerry, whom no one else will care for. And while it’s great that there’s that solution in place for these kinds of situations, it’s unfortunately happening much more than anyone would like. As if this story isn’t sad enough already, Jerry is just one of hundreds of elderly who end up in this situation every year.
“At the end of the day, this is our loved ones that we are talking about,” said Doug Muir, who oversees behavior health at Porter Adventist Hospital. “So, as a society and community, we need to demand better outcomes.”
If you want to hear from Jerry’s family members on why they wouldn’t take him in, and to see what ended up happening, you’ll definitely want to watch the video below.
What do you think of Jerry’s story? Did you know so many elderly were abandoned a year? How do you think we can prevent these situations from happening?