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