Cop Becomes Legal Guardian of 83-Year-Old with Dementia Who Can't Care for Himself

"Once Norm started down the road of not being able to take care of himself, it was the only logical step. How could I not?" said Sergeant Jon Sterling.

A Kentucky cop said it was all part of the job when he took legal guardianship of an elderly man with dementia in his neighborhood.

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"It doesn’t take any effort to care," said Sgt. Jon Sterling of the Erlanger Police Department. "Once Norm started down the road of not being able to take care of himself, it was the only logical step. You know, how could I not?"

The police officer of more than 20 years said he met Norm about four years ago, when the Korean War vet called cops to report some suspicious activity in his area.

"[Norm] lives alone and he lives in an area of the city that has pretty heavy traffic," Sterling told “He looks after his neighbors.”

In the following years, Sterling said he often ran into Norm around town.

"Whenever I would see him, we would just stop and talk," he said. "He’s a very smart person. He has a very interesting view on history and politics. I just loved talking to him."

Last week, Sterling said he noticed social workers at Norm’s home, and dropped by to make sure he was OK. Norm had recently turned 83.

“He had lost a bunch of weight. It had been so long since I had seen him,” Sterling said. “His hair was as long as his beard. He really looked like he wasn’t taking care of himself. He literally had gotten smaller.”

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The social workers determined he had a case of early on-set dementia, and Sterling added that Norm’s eccentric personality may have compounded the diagnosis.

"He’s got a way about him that I really liked because I’m a little eccentric myself," Sterling said. "So that’s kind of one of the ways we bonded."

Realizing that Norm had no close family members, he decided to assume guardianship of the senior. His wife, a nurse, and son were immediately on board with his decision.

Sterling was able to check his friend into the hospital, where he was given IV fluids, fed, and cleaned up.

"The short time he was in the hospital, he got his balance back; he got his color back," Sterling said. "He got the fullness in his face. It really helped."

With his temporary guardianship, Sterling was able to access his health and bank records, and figure out what further care he needed, including a retirement home.

Although he didn’t have enough money to check into a home that suited his needs, despite having benefits as a Korean War veteran, Sterling said he was determined to help him out any way he could.

He took to GoFundMe and helped set up a campaign to raise money for his needs.

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"I just put it out there hoping maybe somebody would maybe want to spend a few bucks and help Norm get the treatment he needs," he said. "By God, did they ever."

Within a day, he raised all the money he needed.

On Tuesday, Norm settled into his new home.

“It was kind of a shock to his system because he’s lived in the same place for 18 years,” Sterling explained, “but a lot of these people care and this is a good sign of community support.”

Despite being in good hands, Sterling explained he still looks forward to visiting Norm most days of the week.

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