BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Boulder police are being credited with safely reuniting a 78-year-old dementia patient with her family after she wandered away from her home last weekend. It took quite some time and a lot of compassion to convince her to go with them. The encounter was caught on body camera.
“June does not want to stop, so I think we are just going to walk with her,” said one of the officers.
The officers patiently worked with the woman, whose husband reported she had wandered away from home.
“I think she’d been gone maybe an hour and he was starting to worry,” Officer David Kaufman said.
He was one of the officers who responded to the neighborhood and quickly spotted the woman.
“I asked ‘hey would you like to go for a drive in my car? I’d love to take you home to your husband.’ She said something along the lines of ‘no, I just want to walk today,” Officer Kaufman said.
Officer Kaufman and seven others, including a mental health specialist, spent about an hour walking with her, side by side, getting to know her, talking with her about her work as a nurse for 30 years. They gently guided her in the direction of her home.
“I would definitely say this type of call would be on par with a lost child. This lady was not going to be able to fin for herself. It could’ve been worse. So yes, this is a priority call for us,” said Officer Kaufman.
Officer Kaufman had a unique understanding of what that woman was going through.
“I have and 81-year-old father who suffers from dementia and I’m aware of what could be happening at any moment and how tenuous it is. It was definitely personal to me to get that person back to her husband,” shared Officer Kaufman.
They finally got her comfortable enough to accept a ride home and helped her into one of their patrol cars.
“Hop on in there. Be careful, it’s really high. Make sure you don’t fall,” said one of the officers.
The woman’s husband was thankful to have her back home and for the officers who acted with so much compassion.
“Very grateful. It must be a tough thing for loved ones of dementia patients or Alzheimer’s patients to deal with the constant stress of “is my loved one going to be ok today.” He was very happy we were able to reunite them,” said Kaufman.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers training for officers on how to interact with people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Officer Kaufman said, “just use your best judgement and compassion. It’s just common sense. The husband called us, gave us locations. We knew what we were working with. It was quite simple and straightforward to find her and get her home. We just do it because that’s the job.”