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)

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

LETTER: Would Maple Ridge councillors want cannabis store beside them?

Resident concerned about how close cannabis store is to her home

Sign on the door explains Service BC office in Maple Ridge is by appointment. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Covid exposure closes Maple Ridge Service BC office

Open by appointment only next week

Linda Peters want to start a Butterflyway in the community. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
Maple Ridge gardener rallying community to create a ‘butterflyway’

Linda Peters has volunteered with the David Suzuki Foundation to become a butterflyway ranger

Cases for the week of March 28 to April 3, created April 7 by the BC Centre for Disease Control.
COVID-19 weekly case counts hit 231 in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

CDC reports 1,941 cases in both cities since January 2020

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Attorney General covers housing, homelessness and justice reform in Surrey Zoom

‘I think it would be really great to hold some sessions in Surrey,’ Eby says of legislative assembly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(File photo)
Youths confront man seen masturbating while walking his dog

Police say it happened Thursday (April 8) on walking path in Surrey

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed on April 4, according to a statement from police. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police name victim following city’s fourth homicide of 2021

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed Sunday in the Downtown Eastside

Sunset Manor, an assisted living facility in Chilliwack owned by the Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, pictured here in October 2020, had its third COVID-19 outbreak declared on April 9, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
3rd COVID outbreak at care home run by Chilliwack church known for opposing vaccinations

30-bed Sunset Manor owned and operated by Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Most Read