Alzheimer’s disease is devastating. This and other types of dementia can take both physical and emotional tolls on the affected individual as well as their family and friends.
When family members experience something like Alzheimer’s, it is crucial that we show them empathy. However, 80-year-old victim of Alzheimer’s Jerry Ellingsen was shown none, an ongoing investigation has found.
If you’ve ever been to Denver’s gargantuan airport (or any large airport for that matter), you’re likely aware of how intimidating it can be. Endless seas of people, lots of noise, the list goes on.
But can you imagine showing up in Denver, Colorado and not knowing how or why you were there in the first place?
Arriving with only his small dog all the way from Fort Meyers, Florida, Jerry found himself in exactly that position.
After spotting Jerry and his dog wandering alone near a ticket counter, confused and alone, a United Airlines supervisor called the police.
When police arrived to make sure the elderly man was all right, they found that he was, in fact, confused and alone and unsure what to do.
“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,” said a Denver police officer’s report. (1)
Upon looking up who checked him into the flight, they managed to contact his daughter, Pamela Roth. She admitted to putting Jerry on the flight to Denver and admitted to be “done with her father.” She also refused to pick him up.
Why Jerry’s Daughter Sent Him on a One-Way Flight to Denver
A 9Wants to Know investigation uncovered that Pamela intended for her father to live with his wife, Jackie Ellingsen of Highlands Ranch.
Although it was only 24 hours before Jerry’s flight that she told Jackie he would be arriving in Denver. Upon contacting his estranged wife, investigators learned that she had no intention of picking him up either.
A text message that Jackie received from Pamela read: “If you need to drop my dad at a homeless shelter, it’s fine. I just want him to have a roof over his head. Please.”
“I have no use for him,” Jackie told a Denver police detective. “I mean a man that wants to kill me, come on. I don’t want to live with him.” (1)
Heartbreaking… She agreed to take care of Jerry’s dog, but not Jerry.
Unfortunately, Jerry’s Alzheimer’s likely caused him to have violent episodes. But does that warrant completely removing a parent or spouse for your life?
Given the sad circumstances, Denver police took him to University of Colorado Hospital.
According to his sister who lives in Michigan, she believes that Jerry is now under the care of a private company in Colorado.
Ironically, 9News Wants to Know discovered that Pamela actually works for a company that specializes in senior home care.
Some of Jerry’s relatives are appalled and disgusted by what has happened.
“Under the circumstance and what’s her line of work with the elderly, she should be punished,” said Judy Ellingsen, Jerry’s sister-in-law. “I’m sorry. Nobody does that to anybody.”
“I cannot believe they did that. I’m horrified. I’m disappointed that somebody can even be that low to do that to their father,” said Kari McConnell, Jerry’s niece.
What Happens When Family Members Like Jerry Have Been Abandoned?
9Wants to Know conducted a point-in-time survey with the help of the Colorado Hospital Association to try and get a better idea.
After surveying 19 hospitals, investigators found that on a single day in September, “113 at-risk adults were stuck in the system, beyond medical necessity. Of those patients, about 30 percent had conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Most of the stranded people were men over 40-years-old.” (1)
In some cases, these at-risk adults arrive at hospitals because money has run out or family members and caregivers have burned out.
What many people fail to realize is that each patient can cost hospitals up to $2,500 per day. As a result, consumers and taxpayers eventually end up bearing the brunt of the costs.
“It is heartbreaking and I think the ones that are the most heartbreaking are the ones who don’t know who they are or where they came from,” said Natalee Mejia, a nurse who works for Denver Health in their special wing called the Oasis Unit. (1)
Sadly, this is just one state in one country. The reality is, at-risk adults are being abandoned every single day – for reasons both in and out of other people’s control.
We hope this article helps raise awareness for the vulnerable people in our lives, young and old. Because it is in those moments of vulnerability that they most require love and care and empathy.
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