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

VIDEO: Highway 1 to look like winter war zone until owners retrieve wrecked vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

Suspected car thief bean-bagged by Abbotsford police for resisting arrest

‘It doesn’t break the skin usually, but it hurts so much you might as well be shot’

Mission’s Steelhead community wants second public hearing on proposed asphalt plant

Online petition against proposal has more than 2,200 signatures

Abbotsford bank ATM robbery thwarted by woman standing her ground

Police arrest alleged known robber running down South Fraser wearing balaclava

Teen accused in Abbotsford attack on 85-year-old convicted of firearms offence

Brandon Janveaux found in vehicle in Chilliwack with .22-calibre rifle down his pants

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Most Read