First Person  

Nellie Evans — In Her Own Words

A Sister Recounts a MedicAlert + Safe Return Success Story

Sunday, April 4th — Easter Sunday — began like any other Sunday. I was at home in Upper Manhattan. My sister Norma — who has Alzheimer’s Disease — was safe in her own home, five blocks away from where I live. Her wonderful home care attendant was preparing her bath.

And then, I got the phone call from her aide.

At about 7 o’clock a.m., Norma “scooted down the stairs” and disappeared out into the street. She wasn’t carrying any ID. But she was wearing a Safe Return bracelet that we got from the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the next 14 hours, her son and I — along with the police — scoured the neighborhood. We went everywhere we thought she might go. Although Norma suffers from very severe shortterm memory loss, my sister is still very vigorous. In fact, I’m sure her years of hiking and living on a kibbutz contribute to her good physical health.

As the hours slowly went by, we continued to look for her. And we waited. It’s a terrible feeling to be so helpless — and unable to be there for someone whom you love. I prayed that no one would take advantage of her.

Relief finally came at about 9:00 p.m. when I got a call from the Alzheimer’s Association. My sister had been found all the way up in the Bronx. She was safe. She had been taken in by a good Samaritan. And she was identified because she was wearing her Safe Return bracelet.

There are so many people to thank.

First, Senator Jeff Klein. Thank you for funding this wonderful MedicAlert ® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®. My family also owes a debt of gratitude to the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Your Safe Return program really saves lives.

I am also very, very grateful to the wonderful good Samaritans who took my sister — a stranger — into the safety of their home. Thank you to the NYPD and Officer Soto for finishing up the job and reuniting my sister with her family.

You are all heroes.

In closing, I have a message for any New Yorker who has a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia: Please enroll them TODAY in the MedicAlert + Safe Return program. It could mean the difference between life and death.