Coquitlam SAR was activated by Burnaby RCMP at about 13:00 on Saturday October 11th for a missing senior with dementia in south Burnaby. The 80 year old male was last seen by his family at 08:30 that morning.
People with dementia are difficult to locate because they often do not know they are lost, do not ask for help, and behave in unpredictable ways. Often because of their age and medical conditions they are fragile and can succumb to hypothermia and exposure rapidly. Even in an urban environment, a missing elderly person with dementia is an emergency. When a person with this set of characteristics goes missing, many jurisdictions will issue what is called a “Silver Alert” to enlist the public to find them.
Twelve members of the team responded, and began searching urban wilderness in the area, in particular a set of ravines near the subject’s south Burnaby home.
At 16:00, a Coquitlam SAR member discovered the subject, soaking wet and shivering, behind a neighbour’s house, directly across the ravine from his residence. He was transferred to BC Ambulance, and taken to the hospital for observation.
Urban areas are the most difficult places to search for a missing person because of the many places where a person can “hole up” – outbuildings, gardens, garages, stairwells, malls, the transit system, parks, trails and urban-interfaces. In most cases, a member of the public is the best chance the missing person has of being located; people literally searching in their own back yards.
Our recommendation for friends and family of people with dementia is to report the person missing as soon as possible. It is an emergency and you do not have to wait 24 hours.
We are very happy to have found this individual so quickly, and returned him to his family.