81-Year-Old With Dementia Gets Lost – Then One Viral Photo Shows Her Family What Actually Happened in the Forest
“We often talk about the rewards of police work. On Friday, we captured a moment.”
81-year-old Roberta Crowley believes that the secret to a long life is “Eat good and stay active.” So, three times a day, she takes her dog out for a walk.
Normally, Crowley, who suffers from dementia, just walks up and down the driveway of her home that she shares with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter.
However, on this particular day, Crowley veered off the main path and wandered into a nearby forest.
What Happened When an Elderly Woman With Dementia Got Lost
When her dog returned home without her, her granddaughter knew something was wrong. She immediately contacted the Charles County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland.
Five Officers — P. DeBoe, C. Caywood, B. Morrison, Sgt. C. Black, and Cpl. C. Clevenger and his K9 partner, Eno — responded to the scene and began searching for the lost woman.
40 minutes later, they found her.
Lost and confused by the sudden appearance of the police officers, Crowley asked them if they were out for a walk too. Not wanting to frighten or embarrass her, they stepped quietly into her world, responding, “Yes.”
Crowley told them that she seemed to have “lost her way.”
That’s when 21-year-old Brandon Morrison, the youngest member of the squad, extended a helping hand. Literally. He gently took the 81-year-old’s hand and started guiding her home.
Sgt. Black snapped a picture of the sweet moment and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office shared it on its Facebook page.
The Viral Photo That Proves the Power of Human Connection
The heartwarming photo went viral garnering over 218K likes, 10K comments, and 5K shares.
“We often talk about the rewards of police work. On Friday, we captured a moment,” the caption read before detailing what happened.
Officer Morrison explained to People, “I wanted to make her feel comfortable. She was disoriented and I wanted to help her stabilize. It’s what any cop would have done.”
It worked. The simple act of holding hands spoke louder than any words could. It silently conveyed a message of safety & security and was a gentle reminder to the octogenarian that she wasn’t alone.
The image is heartwarming, yes, but it’s also a powerful example of the strength of human connection and community.
As they walked, the officers made small talk with Crowley, further putting her at ease until they safely returned her home, much to the relief of her family.
Response to the Viral Photo
When Officer Morrison heard that his picture went viral, he was shocked. For him, it was just something small that he did to help the elderly woman and he enjoyed the chance to talk with her.
“It was cool to talk to someone that old who has experienced a lot of life and now lives with four generations,” he said. “I’m really close with my grandma, so I was intrigued by her story.”
As for Sgt. Black, who took the photo, he also believes that it’s all just part of the job.
“I saw our officer, the youngest on the team, helping this 80-year-old woman and it was very heartwarming,” Sgt. Black said. “The way they were talking it bridged that gap. He represents what police stand for. We are here to help serve the public. He was doing his duty to help her.”
While they may not have thought it was a big deal, the rest of the world certainly did.
Commenters came out in droves to praise the young officer’s response and to share their own stories of loved ones with dementia.
“It’s beautiful how they allowed this woman to maintain her dignity while at the same time assisting her. It’s so important to keep that in mind,” wrote one.
Another wrote, “Thank you for joining her on her journey and taking a calm and natural approach. What could have been a very scary and threatening situation for the woman with dementia turned into a pleasant stroll home with some nice young men. Thank you for treating her with dignity and respect and treating her as a person, not as her disease.”
This Is the Rewarding Part of Policing
The Sheriff’s Office ended the Facebook post, saying:
“Officers encounter different situations every day. Some good, some not so good. In this case, a frightening situation for the family ended happily. For that, they were thankful. For us, it’s the rewarding part of policing.”
Not only was a lost elderly woman found that day thanks to the dedication and hard work of the police, but they came compassionately along beside her. Treating her with dignity, respect, and empathy.
Officer Morrison’s willingness to extend a helping hand, both literally and metaphorically, showcases the true spirit of community service. And proves that by embodying the values of empathy and understanding, we can create a world where no one feels lost or alone.