Aiding the elderly

Today, we found a man. A relative of mine and I were driving after a family event and spotted an older gentleman standing on the sidewalk. His stood braced against his walking stick, shaking from head to toe. As we drove by, we both watched in the rear-view mirrors to see if he started walking. He didn’t. We turned around at the next street and passed him a second time, deciding to find a safe place to pull over and see if he needed any assistance.

So we didn’t alarm him, my relative approached alone and enquired after his wellbeing. He said he was waiting for a friend to pick him up after work, but didn’t seem to know any specific details. She offered to give him a ride to his house, or to his friend, but he kept insisting he was fine and didn’t want to come with us. He was still shaking all over, very pale, and obviously couldn’t walk; whenever he tried, it was an unsteady shuffle. My relative ended up coming back to the car at a loss of what to do. He had finally sat down on the nearest fence post and just wanted to wait for this person he thought was coming.

I shrugged to my relative and said I would try and give him one of the folding chairs she keeps in her car. At least then he would have somewhere comfortable and sturdier to sit than the fence, and I might be able to find out more about him. I took the chair over and stuck my hand out, introducing myself and telling him it was wonderful to meet him. He said his name was Tet, short for a lovely Polish name I cannot remember now.

I asked if I could give him the chair as a gift, so he could sit in it. After a little back and forth of him refusing and me insisting that I would really like him to have it, please, he told me to pack it up and he would let us drive him home.

He gave us a location – a nearby Church we knew of. Tet said he lived next to it. Unfortunately, he tried to direct us, and it was immediately clear he was very confused and didn’t know where we were, or how to get home. He said we drove by his house, even though we were on the completely wrong road and nowhere near the Church, then he directed us to pull over at a tree he thought he recognised as his own. While I was helping Tet out of the car, my relative knocked on the door and asked the lady there if she recognised the elderly man. She didn’t, and after checking with her neighbours as well, one of them remembered seeing him walking around earlier in the day. It was a stark contrast to his lack of mobility by the time we found him.

I kept talking with Tet to keep him from trying to take off (though he was physically unable to), since he said several times that he would just walk “over here” and wait for his friend. I asked about his life and experiences, and shared a few of my own while my relative called an ambulance. There was a very real possibility he had suffered a stroke, or some other ailment, and needed medical assistance. When the ambulance arrived, he told me he didn’t want to go with them. I assured him they were just there to check and make sure he was okay. He finally agreed that, because he’d been standing for a while, they should probably check his blood pressure. I introduced him to the paramedics, and said he would like to have his blood pressure taken. They would then be able to assess his overall condition and find out what he needed.

I will probably never hear anything about Tet again. Emergency services obviously have my relative’s phone number, but they won’t call us, since we just found him on the roadside and are not his next of kin. The ambulance drove off with him safely inside, perhaps to try and drop him off at his home, or to transport him to hospital if he was ill. I really do hope everything turns out for him. He was so grateful, even when he didn’t want help, that we were there and willing to offer aid. I don’t think I will ever forget Tet.

~A

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13 thoughts on “Aiding the elderly

  1. I’m always happy to hear about people helping others in need. It’s something that happens much to little and really should be done more. There are no reasons not to help others.

    1. Me too. It’s so important that we never just think someone else will take care of it. If everyone thinks that, no one will ever help. I know I want to live in a world where we can rely on the kindness of others. 🙂

      ~A

  2. Wonderful story. I’m so glad that you two stopped and went out of your way to try and help him. I sure hope his relatives find him! It’s so easy in that state to wander off.

    It’s true. most people don’t want to get involved, or if they care enough to think about it, they’ll believe someone else is going to take care of it.

  3. Amazing. Your response was the complete opposite of those ppl in China, who recently walked right by the little girl who had been runover. Way to go, Ashlee.
    My husband & I had a weird incident like this happen to us once: we found an elderly woman lying on the sidewalk outside a rec center where I took a class. She couldn’t get up so we called an ambulance from a nearby store. When the ambulance got there she still refused to get up. But when a friend of hers showed up the old lady sprang right up. (She insisted we had been trying to rob her. Hahaha!)
    Aren’t you burning with curiosity to know who Tet was? I bet he’ll show up in your writing somewhere!

    1. The saddest part is how often good samaritans ARE punished or attacked for trying to help, and that just turns everyone off doing a single thing for those in need. 😦 Even your own experience shows that, when she claimed you were trying to steal from her!

      I did wonder if Tet was remembering right when he said he lived next to that Church, and if I could find out what happened by asking around there. But that seems like a strange thing to do, even though I have a legendary sense of curiosity.

      ~A

  4. That is so beautiful, Ashlee. You brought a tear to my eye! Thank you for having such an amazing, kind heart.

  5. This is so sad and uplifting at the same time. You did the right thing, absolutely. And not many people would, so good for you. You made my heart hurt just a bit, in a good way. Thanks for sharing this story.

  6. Aw, Ashlee, this tugs at my heart. I’m so glad there are people like you in this world who would do what you did for Tet. My parents are in their 80’s (and still completely “with it”—and hey, my dad is Polish!), but there have been moments where their judgment has lapsed. It’s a fine line to walk, trying not to insult a senior by offering help (many of them insist on doing difficult things just so they don’t feel or look “old”) and knowing when to leave them alone and respect their independence. But in the case of Tet, I’d say you definitely did the right thing. Especially if the poor man was shaking. What a big heart you have. This post brightened my day. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Barb! I’m glad it gave you good feelings. 🙂 I definitely thought about my elderly relatives, and how much they do/don’t let others help when I approached Tet. On one hand, knowing he’s probably a very proud and independent personality, and on the other, knowing that I would probably insist on doing things for any other person I know, regardless of age, if I believed I needed to help.

      ~A

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