ELKHART — Millie woke up to the sound of her front door shutting.
It was about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, and though puzzled, Millie jumped out of bed and looked around the house for her husband.
Millie’s husband, Bill, has Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He was having trouble sleeping the night before, insisting that his chain saw was cutting a hole in the ceiling of the house, so he stayed that night in the living room.
Millie, who asked her and her husband’s last names be left out of the story due to safety concerns, said she got ready to go outside and had just left her house when she bumped into Tanya Haynes, a carrier for The Elkhart Truth.
Haynes was following her usual route, delivering papers down East Emerald Street, when she saw Millie stepping out of the house, dressed in a coat and gym shoes.
Haynes asked Millie what she was doing outside so early, to which Millie responded that she was looking for her husband.
“Initially I thought that she was confused,” Haynes said. “So I handed her her newspaper, and then she explained to me that her husband had dementia.”
Haynes, who didn’t know Millie or Bill, decided to jump in her car and look around the neighborhood. She told Millie to call police in the meantime.
Haynes didn’t give it a second thought to help Millie.
“You could see on (Millie’s) face she was afraid,” Haynes said.
And having helped an aunt with Alzheimer’s disease, Haynes knew that it could be difficult to interact with a patient.
It didn’t take Haynes long to find Bill. He was walking near the intersection of Orange Street and Columbian Avenue, wearing only his underwear, a T-shirt and his socks.
Bill later told Millie he was chasing her car, even though Millie tried to explain to Bill that she had not moved her car in hours.
Haynes stayed with Millie and Bill, who had become verbally aggressive, until police arrived at the scene.
That morning Bill was taken to the hospital for observation.
Millie contacted The Elkhart Truth a few days later to thank Haynes for her quick response.
“She was just so kind, she went the extra mile,” Millie said. “She deserves a medal.
“She was so caring and compassionate and jumped right in with both feet to help, instead of fluffing it off, by saying ‘oh, that’s too bad,’ which she could have done.”