As the population ages, the number of people diagnosed with dementia is soaring and many- more than half, according to one estimation- will eventually wander off, presenting police with a unique set of challenges. Last time alone, Toronto police received 835 reports of missing people aged 61 and older, the most important one number in the past five years. This week, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott supported calls for a national dementia strategy.
The stakes are high: If a missing dementia patient isn’t found within 12 hours, he or she faces a 50 -per-cent chance of injury or death, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.” People can come to real impairment in a very short period of time ,” said Mary Schulz, the organization’s director of education.
Among the grim statistics is Helen Robertson, a 79 -year-old with Alzheimer’s who hasn’t been recognized since she left her Burlington home to go for a walk on July 5. Despite an extensive search, “theres been” no confirmed sightings, her bank account hasn’t been touched and there is no evidence of foul play.
The incident was not the first time the avid walker had strayed away. In February, 2015, Ms. Robertson travelled from her Burlington health club to the western part of Mississauga, a 25 -kilometre excursion. A security guard procured her and helped her get home.
“They’re very slow, they’re very methodical and, is dependent on where they’re trying to go, they’ll move and move and push through the thickest lumber ,” said Sergeant Bobby Sandford, Toronto Police’s missing person’s search co-ordinator.” They don’t have the ability to retrace their paces or to investigate why they can’t get through there.”
During a training course, Sgt. Sandford recollects learning about a Southern Ontario woman who were lost on the way to the same tea home she visited every morning to meet up with friends. One period, the sidewalk outside her home was blocked by construction and, instead of going around the obstacle, she stepped onto the street and became disoriented. She purposed up strolling through town, into the countryside and straight into a manure pile. She was procured and was fine.
” She was functioning well until something altered in their own lives that she couldn’t process ,” Sgt. Sandford said.” So there’s really no way to say-so,’ Okay, it’s getting worse and tomorrow they’re going to wander .'”
Searching for those suffering from dementia or other conditions affecting their cognitive abilities is especially challenging. Unlike with a missing infant, they often don’t comprehend that they are lost and won’t ask for help or respond to someone calling their name. They also sometimes take shelter in out-of-the-way places and, in tragic instances, have been found dead simply metres from their homes.
While every situation is unique, police try to focus on the missing person’s level of exit and imagine their path of traveling, said Sgt. Sandford, who teaches search techniques to police officers. People with dementia typically walk in straight lines, even through difficult terrain. When they encounter obstacles, they often “ping,” or bounce, off them, he said, creating a new guidance of travel.
He exhorts officers to first check hazardous areas, such as the organizations of water, and then focus on other locations.
When someone with dementia goes missing, police advise caregivers to call police immediately. Sgt. Sandford says he treats a missing dementia sufferer as akin to a lost two-year-old; both are extremely vulnerable and unable to take care of themselves.
Source: Globe And Mail
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