To all the kind, caring people who commented on HopNews, Sept 12: Jim Noon Found Alive, and HopNews, Sept 20: Obituary for Jim Noon: We all want the best care for our loved ones. When our comments reflect controversy, it may be due to misunderstanding or not being adequately informed. I hope to respond to your comments as I experienced the situation.
Thank you, first to all the dedicated First Responders who put their lives on the line to serve and protect the rest of us every day. So many, from many towns, and the state, worked to find my husband. They are truly Heroes. Thank you, also, to the caring, dedicated people at Golden Pond, who are committing their lives to give others the best possible life situation while they live out their lives. They welcomed my husband and gave him the opportunity to live his life as he needed to live it. They, too, are Heroes. They are an excellent Community Care facility.
I wish to respond to the comments made on Sept 12, and then Sept 20, as to why Jim was free to come and go. His family and Golden Pond, in their careful assessment, had acknowledged that Jim had dementia, probably Alzheimers. As one daughter explained it, Jim’s brain was like Swiss cheese, solid, with holes. Jim walked a lot, 3-5 miles most days. On the day his furniture was moved to Golden Pond, August 29, he gave another of our daughters an 8-mile tour of his favorite places in Newton. He could have kept going, but it was time for lunch. He commended her on keeping up with him.
Our family did not want a memory care, lockdown facility for Jim, and Golden Pond responded to Jim’s needs. Dementia takes many forms. No two people are alike, so they need to be treated as individuals. Prior to moving, Jim did not get lost, did not escape at night, and was not a wanderer. As one commenter said, “He was new to the facility, so maybe this behavior is new (moves can be very disorienting to elderly with dementia.).” This may be the explanation for Jim.
Commenters also said “Golden Pond Assisted Living isn’t a nursing home, and it isn’t a prison”. They do have people watching the doors, and they have cameras outside the building. Jim Noon had a PhD from Yale, was an engineer, and even with dementia he was still a very bright man who continued to read books and write well. If he wanted to get out of a building he would find a way, and that is what he did.
On the evening of September 10, a fire alarm disoriented Jim, who had been asleep. After all residents had been accounted for, Jim later apparently felt he wanted to get out, and he found a way. Jim and I wanted to live together, as we had for more than 50 years. Due to safety reasons, caused by dementia, that was impossible. Perhaps Jim was trying to reach me, or just needed to walk. Jim was a religious man, and did not talk of killing himself. The very fact that Jim was found so close to Golden Pond may have meant that he was trying to return, but lost his way. Unfortunately, if he were able to reason, he did not communicate his intention, which caused a great deal of stress, work and worry on an entire community.
Yes, the search was suspended due to darkness and rain…on Monday night. The police and firefighters were called in at 12:30 AM, after Jim had been missing less than two hours Sunday night. They did search during that first night. They used K-9 dogs and drones to look for Jim. They worked all day Monday, only stopping at 7 PM, with a tactical plan for Tuesday morning. One statement indicated around 40 responders, but I personally counted many more, perhaps double, with people also looking in Newton, Framingham, Boston, as well as police in Ashland, Milford, and Upton. In no way was this search mishandled. Our family is grateful to all the responders who looked for Jim. It was 100% effort. He was eventually found alive, and was given the best care possible at UMass Memorial Hospital.
Golden Pond was not negligent. They were very caring and compassionate, with attentive staff. Jim Noon voted. He made the choice to walk out. Eventually, he would have done so. No amount of care can prevent an intelligent, disoriented man from determining the course of his own life. Rather than say, “don’t send your family there”, I would say, “Do send your family member there”, as they are strongly committed to giving your loved one the best care and freedom they wish for, and we wish for ourselves.
A wise commenter said, “He succumbed to Sepsis which is a systemic infection and may have contributed to his initial confusion and wandering off.” After Jim was found, his body was seriously dehydrated. After trying to bring Jim back to good health, he died quietly, peacefully, with his family by his side. We are remembering this strong, loving, successful human being. Peace be with all of you, commenters and readers. Our family is at peace.
Loving Jim Noon for 52 years