Lost & Alone

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Jerry Ellingsen, an 80-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease, was found confused and alone in the Denver airport. When questioned, he was unable to give his name, where he was from, or where he was going. It was discovered that his daughter had put him on the plane in Florida with a one-way ticket. She intended for him to live with his wife, but the wife didn’t want him either and refused to pick him up. The daughter texted his wife saying, “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.” When asked why she would do such a thing, the daughter said she was, “done with her father” and did not want to be contacted again. On an unbelievable side note, this daughter works for a company that specializes in senior home care!

The article went on to say that on any given day, dozens of “at-risk” adults such as those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or mental illnesses are stranded in Denver-area hospitals because they have no one to take care of them. When surveyed, there was a day in September where 113 people were found in area hospitals who no longer need acute medical care, but had no place to go. There were 30 of that number who had been abandoned by family members. Laws require hospitals to keep admitted at-risk adults who’ve been abandoned until caseworkers can find safe placement for them, which can lead to extended stays for months and even years. Jerry Ellingsen spent 6 months in the hospital because he had nowhere to go.

While there is much that could be said about the lack of facilities, inadequate respite care for caregivers, exorbitant medical costs, and an aging population, the bottom line is that the man in this article had a family who abandoned him. I don’t know what kind of man, father, or husband he had been, but I do know he is a person who should have been treated better and respected more by his wife and daughter. Regardless of the behavior of a parent or spouse, we have God-given obligations toward our family.

What does God have to say about those who are older and our relationship with aging parents?

  • We should listen to and not despise our parents (Proverbs 23:22).
  • We should provide for them (1 Timothy 5:8).
  • We should show honor and respect to them (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Leviticus 19:32).
  • Repaying our parents is good and acceptable to God (1 Timothy 5:4).
  • Older people still have a purpose in service to God (Psalms 92:14).
  • While experiencing the absolute worst moments of His life, Jesus took care of His mother (John 19:25-27).

The Psalmist said it best in Psalm 71:9, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.” 

Information sited in this article about Jerry Ellingsen may be found at: www.9news.com/article/news/local/investigations/man-with-alzheimers-sent-on-one-way-flight-to-denver-among-scores-of-patients-stranded-in-hospitals/73-613906543