Whether it’s stories like the gentleman below, the boy from Greenville, SC a little over a month ago, or any one of the all too many stories that happen around the U.S. and the world all too often, these are the the things you read and hear about that lay heavy on your heart. Occurrences like these are the ones we strive to prevent, and wish we could end altogether.
Our hearts go out to the family.
Alzheimer’s patient found dead in field
State to investigate how the Alzheimer’s patient left unnoticed from an assisted living center in Mooresville.
A 91-year-old grandfather was found dead in a Mooresville field Sunday night, eight hours after he wandered away from an assisted living facility.
Several investigations are being conducted, but officials at Summit Place, in Mooresville, said it appears Joseph Clay Johnston, who had the degenerative brain disease Alzheimer’s, walked away during a Mother’s Day event at the facility.
“There were a lot of children and visitors celebrating the day with their grandparents,” said Joseph Mikalajunas, president of Bell Senior Living, who owns and operates Summit Place, in a statement. He said there appeared to be no foul play.
Johnston was last seen alive at Summit Place around 1:45 p.m., a little less than eight hours before he was located in a field on U.S. 21, police said. Summit officials estimated it was about 400 feet from the facility.
Johnston’s family said Tuesday that they want to know how Johnston, who could barely walk and lived in a secure part of the facility, got away without anyone noticing. He’d lived at Summit Place for more than two years.
“I’m at peace with the fact that my dad’s in a better place, but I’m very upset with the circumstances around his death,” said Cynthia Tyler of Aiken, S.C. “My dad should have passed away in his bed, or in that facility. Not in the middle of a field, by himself, alone.”
Tyler said she got a call from her sister Sunday night, asking if she had been up to see their father. Her sister said officials at Summit Place had called, saying a family member had signed Johnston out.
Tyler said that for the family, taking Johnston, who was unsteady on his feet and in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s was, “out of the question. Most of the time, I go see daddy for my benefit and he just wanted to be in the bed all the time and sleep.”
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services plans to conduct an investigation after police conclude theirs, said Jim Jones, a spokesman for the department, which regulates nursing homes. Jones said inspectors had been inside the facility last week for an annual inspection, but the results were still pending.
He was unsure whether Sunday’s incident would affect the results of that inspection. The facility had no deficiencies or penalties when it was inspected in April 2008.
The death raises the same sort of questions about the safety of residents that came up when Mouy Tang, 46, went missing from a Cleveland County assisted-living home last September.
Tang, who had schizophrenia and other medical issues, was never located. In March, a state advisory panel recommended record fines of $50,000 against Unique Living for violations after an investigation into Tang’s disappearance.