Six seniors with dementia are still missing or have been found dead so far in 2019, the worst year since BC Silver Alert was founded in 2014. (BC Silver Alert)

BC Silver Alert co-founder calls 2019 a tragic year for seniors with dementia

Chilliwack hit especially hard with two older people found deceased since August

The founders of the BC Silver Alert say 2019 has been a tragic year for seniors with dementia in the Lower Mainland.

Six seniors, including two in Chilliwack, were found dead or are still missing.

“I’m disappointed and frustrated that after six years since father’s disappearance, more isn’t being done by our province to help locate missing seniors with dementia,” said Sam Noh, co-founder of the BC Silver Alert. Noh’s father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, has been missing from his Coquitlam home since Sept. 18, 2013.

“The chances of survival decrease if not found within 24 hours. As dementia patients are typically found by a member of the public, it is imperative that the public is informed as soon as possible.”

Over the five years since the founding of the BC Silver Alert, there have been an average about 29 alerts a year. Over the same period, approximately two people per year have died or never been found.

Noh said they know they are not capturing all of the incidents where people with dementia, autism, cognitive issues or memory deficits go missing, but even with this partial picture, authorities should be alarmed.

Two seniors went missing Thursday night alone – one from Vancouver and one from Maple Ridge.

• READ MORE: Metro Vancouver police search for two men with dementia as temperatures drop

• READ MORE: Case of missing B.C. senior with Alzheimer’s renews call for Silver Alert

Chilliwack in particular has been hit hard with two seniors going missing, both found dead, since the summer.

On Oct. 26, the body of 79-year-old John Pop was found not far from his home near Chilliwack Lake Road.

And on August 21, the body of 86-year-old Ethel ‘Grace’ Baranyk was found more than a month after she went missing.

• READ MORE: Search for missing Chilliwack senior with dementia comes to sad end

• READ MORE: RCMP confirm body of missing Chilliwack senior found

Lost-person behaviour statistics suggest that if a person isn’t found in the first 24 hours, their rate of survival drops to 77 per cent, then to 60 per cent in the next 24 hours, according to Noh.

In the winter, any missing person that meets Silver Alert criteria is considered a life-threatening emergency. With an ageing population, and increased cases of dementia, Noh said the problem needs to be addressed soon.

The Silver Alert is used in 28 U.S. states, and three provinces have Silver Alert-specific legislation. Despite that, none of the Canadian National Dementia Strategy, B.C.’s Provincial Guide to Dementia Care, the B.C. Senior’s Advocate or the Alzheimer’s association has any plans.

“We know it works in other places. We’d like to see it working here in British Columbia,” according to a BC Silver Alert press release issued Nov. 19.

“I know from my experience as a Search and Rescue volunteer that methods intended to prevent wandering are fallible,” Noh said. “It only makes sense to have a safety net like the Silver Alert.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bowen Byram makes all-star, again

Vancouver Giants defenceman recognized for second year in a row

Fort Langley Jazz and Art’s Festival moves to September

A band lineup and a complete list of festival activities will be announced in June

VIDEO: House fire in Langley ties up traffic on 62 Avenue near 201A Street

Blaze in unoccupied house under investigation as ‘suspicious’

Honda driver may be key witness to Langley crash: RCMP

Police are hoping to find the driver of what appears to be a grey Honda Civic

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

Fraser Valley auto sound business starts producing face shields

Certified Auto Sound & Security is doing what it can to help frontline healthcare workers.

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read