Jerry Ellingsen was 80 years old when he showed up at the Denver airport with his dog and nothing else. He didn’t know why he was there or where he lived. He started wandering aimlessly but police found him and began to question him. He couldn’t answer those questions.
He became confused about the general details of life, including where he was at, where he had come from, who he was visiting and the names of family members.
Jerry has Alzheimer’s disease and he was living with his brother and nephew in Southwest Florida. Eventually, they sent him to his daughter, Pamela’s house. She was the one that put him on the one-way flight to Denver.
Pamela was sending her father to his estranged wife’s home so that she could “get rid of him” because she was “done with him.” A text was sent to his wife, stating: “My dad and Corky [the dog] will arrive on a flight in Denver tomorrow afternoon.”
After locating Jerry, the police tried to call Pamela and his estranged wife. Neither of them would take him in so they took him to a local hospital for care.
When nobody will take responsibility for the care of people like Jerry, the hospitals are legally obligated to take them in. It’s nice that this solution is in place but it’s unfortunate that it is happening so frequently. Jerry is only one of the hundreds of elderly individuals who find themselves 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.”
You can see more about this situation when you watch this video: