This should never have happened, and it makes me indescribably sad. Ronald Westbrook, age 72, a man with advanced Alzheimer’s, was shot in the chest 4 times as an intruder under the “stand your ground” line of thinking where you can shoot anyone you feel is threatening you. No charges were filed against the shooter.
Mr. Westbrook wandered from his home in the middle of a cold night, dressed inappropriately for the weather, with his two dogs. At 2:30 a.m. a police officer questioned him but apparently was satisfied that the man lived in the area and was walking his dogs.
About 90 minutes later, 34-year-old Joe Hendrix heard a knock on his door. Perceiving a threat, he called the police and then went outside to confront the intruder—an elderly man wearing thin clothing, carrying some mail, with two dogs. Hendrix decided the confused senior citizen was “coming right for him” (as they say on South Park as a defense against shooting anything) and shot him four times in the chest with a .40 caliber handgun. “Under Georgia law, people are not required to try retreating from a potential conflict before opening fire to defend themselves from serious imminent harm," said Russell Gabriel, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the University of Georgia. State law allows people to use lethal force to stop someone from forcibly entering a home if those inside reasonably fear they are going to be attacked. Deadly force can even be used to stop someone from trying to forcibly enter a home to commit a felony.”
My best friend grew up in the boondocks of Pennsylvania, a place full of gun-toting rednecks from which she escaped as soon as she graduated from high school. She was taught how to use a gun when she was seven years old, and to respect a gun, and when not to shoot a gun. When I told her about this story she was appalled on many levels. I’m not a “no one should have guns” person, but there should be rules…and one of the rules shouldn’t be “it’s coming right for us” so let’s shoot it, straight out of South Park. She said if everyone was properly taught to use and respect firearms as children, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.
The shooter, even though he killed an unarmed, sick, elderly man, was not charged with a crime. I know I said that before, but I'm still in disbelief.
Long-time readers know that my dad "escaped" twice from my mom. Once he was angry, once he thought he knew where he was going but got confused and lost. Both times he was returned to us unharmed; we were probably more frightened than he was. I can't imagine the phone call to his poor wife, who hadn't realized he was missing. "Ma'am, your husband left your house and was shot to death. Sorry about that."
Would Mr. Westbrook have died a horrible death like my dad? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Even if that was the case, he shouldn't have been shot. He was probably scared and or confused. One article said he used to live there at the Hendrix residence, or thought he did. Maybe he thought he was home. Then a strange man came outside, shouting things at him that his poor old brain couldn't process, and instead of helping him or welcoming him, the man from inside the house shot the old man to death.
His wife was a nurse, well-qualified to be caring for him at home. She had the doors alarmed. There's no mention I can find of how he defeated the door alarms and got out of the house. But there didn't seem to be a reason for him to be in a nursing home, or that his wife could no longer handle his care.
This is just heartbreaking, and yet the news cycle was all about some guy from a movie about driving fast dying in a car accident while driving fast.
(I read several articles about this, some with varying details. I picked the best one to showcase here.)
enlarge article here Original URL and photo source
An update on Alzheimer’s Aunt: after many delays, she finally went to a throat specialist. He found that her throat was 60% closed (if I understand it correctly; this is 3d hand information filtered through her) and she has one or more throat polyps. He “opened” her throat while she was under anesthesia and then she was required to take some “suspension” drug for 30 days. Turns out her insurance didn’t pay for that drug and it was $300 so someone made the decision simply not to get it for her.
Fast forward two weeks to Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. I was sick that whole week and my mom was going to move the turkey dinner to Sunday, but Alzheimer’s Aunt decided she was coming so we couldn’t cancel. I didn’t feel like being with people or eating, but as a dutiful daughter I went to see my mom and my cousin (and my aunt, I guess).
I didn’t much feel like eating—I had been sick for 5 days at that point, sleeping about 20 hours a day due to intense pain in my head (probably, looking back, I had a sinus infection, but between the holiday and the weekend there was no way to get to a doctor and on Monday I was getting better already). I took a very small amount of food just to be polite.
Alzheimer’s Aunt loaded up her plate with everything. My mom had accidently bought a six pack of caffeine-free Pepsi instead of caffeine-free Diet Pepsi and since Alzheimer’s Aunt is a Pepsi fanatic (addict) my mom offered it to her.
I had finished about half my meager plate when Aunt started to hiccup. I pushed the plate away and walked into the living room and laid on the couch. When someone asked why, I said, “I don’t want to be trampled” meaning by her when she starts to vomit and that was taken as a joke. Did Alzheimer’s Aunt stop eating when she started hiccupping? No of course not. She kept shoveling food into her mouth, just like the time with the donut.
I’m going to do an aside here. If, as part of his Alzheimer’s, my dad had started to choke and “spit up” when he ate, and he had a clear warning sign such as hiccups, there is no way I would allow him to keep eating or to stay at the table once the warning bell commenced. He would be immediately told, “Bob, go into the bathroom.” If he didn’t go, he’d be led there. Of course, my cousins would say that’s a perfect example of me “being mean” to my dad, while I see it as an example of taking care of someone who can’t take care of himself.
Finally the people remaining at the table persuaded her to get up. Instead of going into the bathroom, she went the other way, into the kitchen. Meaning to get to the bathroom she would have to then go through the crowded dining room. Of course, while in the kitchen, it started. She forced her way through the dining room, spewing and gagging, into the bathroom. This happened at least 4 times. (I went to sleep on the couch.) I don’t know how much of a mess she made in my mom’s bathroom, but last time she left it there for someone else to clean up (actually I cleaned it and told my mom after).
I was invited back to the table for dessert but between being sick and hearing puking, I declined.
My cousin commented to her mother, “I noticed that you get sick when you drink soda or eat bread. The other night you drank water and didn’t eat bread and you were okay.” Alzheimer’s Aunt’s instant response: “I didn’t eat bread.” “You were eating stuffing, that’s bread, and you drank several cans of Pepsi.” “I didn’t eat bread.”
I wonder if, 2 weeks before, if she had been giving the prescribed drug, if she would not have been “spitting up” all over the place on Thanksgiving. I can only assume the procedure failed, whether due to the lack of the drug or some other reason.
Aunt was talking about the throat procedure. She said, “I thought I had throat cancer all this time!” I was dumbfounded. If I thought I had cancer, I wouldn’t wait TWO YEARS and LIE to my doctor about symptoms. I wouldn’t even wait two weeks, not after I saw my friend lose her mom in 13 days from cancer—less than two weeks from diagnosis to death last year. Seemingly fine at Thanksgiving, dead by Christmas.
Since Thanksgiving, there has been another bout of “go check on her, she’s dead” wherein it was found that she had left her traditional phone off the hook and turned off her cell phone. My cousin said, “she can’t understand that she needs to hang up the phone because she lost so much comprehension due to the strokes.” I said, “Yes, that’s vascular dementia.” “No, my mother doesn’t have dementia! She’s not like your dad.” (well that much is true) Well, according to this site and many others, “Stroke, small vessel disease, or a mixture of the two can cause vascular dementia.” That seems pretty straightforward to me.
In other Alzheimer’s Aunt news, one of her out-of-state children has decided to move back into the hoarded house and get it fit for habitation. Then she is going to give up her apartment (she’s been there what, a month?) and move back in with her child and child-in-law as caregivers. The house has been about 90% cleaned out (3 overflowing 25-yard dumpsters of trash) but there’s still a whole room of things she “has to have” and of course the place is filthy beyond imagining, smells horrible, and needs pretty much everything done—floors refinished/replaced, bathroom remodeled downstairs for her use, everything else scrubbed and/or painted and/or replaced. Good luck to the two of them moving in there. I wouldn’t live there even for free like they will be.
(I am going to continue calling her Alzheimer’s Aunt because it has a nice ring and Dementia Aunt is ugly. I know now she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, of course.) image source
My father's 1253-day journey through Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and my feelings about it. All material is copyrighted by Gevera Bert Piedmont (except where noted and where quoted from other sources); please do not repost without permission.
"The cost of Alzheimer's? Everything you ever owned, everything you ever thought you would get, and things you never even thought about."
"It's a long, slow slide into oblivion, with no brakes."
"If this was a paper journal, the ink would be running with tears."
"Imagine a really beautiful, perfect statue, left out in the wind and rain for centuries, to be worn away, until it’s only retained the shape of a person, not any of the individuality. That’s what Alzheimer’s did to my father. It wore him away, all the sharp edges and crisp points that made him Bob, who loved his family and his pets and his raspberry bushes, and turned him into a fearful person with a vague and confused stare."
"It's a nasty disease, surrounded by shadows and small, largely unseen tragedies."--Terry Pratchett
This is a reminder that Alzheimer's disease affects real people, real families. My dad wasn't a monster, just a man whose brain was slowly eaten by a terrible disease.