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

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Northwest Regional Airport says ridership extremely low amid COVID-19

The airport has enacted enhanced sanitary measures and reduced flights

Shames Mountain pleads for public to stay away from ski hill following large social gathering

Camera footage shows a parking lot full of people mingling, ignoring social distancing mandate

Fisherman drowns crossing Skeena River

59-year old Prince Rupert victim pronounced dead at Mills Memorial

Coastal GasLink will consult with health authorities before construction recommences

The company continues to perform environmental monitoring, pipe delivery and stockpile

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Frontline workers receiving COVID-19 isolation exemptions prompt concerns

Provincial Health Authority staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel

Most Read