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

Fruitvale product new ambassador for Blue Jays Care Foundation

Fruitvale native Ella Matteucci led off Jays Care Foundation with a few Twitter tips on staying fit

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Fact: B.C. bats don’t carry or spread COVID

BC Annual Bat Count goes this summer, citizens encouraged to take part

Mountain Pineapple defers application for new cannabis store in Rossland

The application was originally going to be reviewed by city council on May 19

VIDEO: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read