Seniors alert system 'a natural outcome' amid rising dementia rates: police chief

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March 20, 2017 - 12:59pm
Kay Braget's body was found Saturday by Saskatoon police after a group of quad riders spotted her vehicle northeast of Saskatoon. She was 89 years old. Phillip Noonan, 88, went missing Dec. 18, 2016. His body was found the next day in a field off 108th Street near Circle Drive.
Saskatoon Police
Kay Braget's body was found Saturday by Saskatoon police after a group of quad riders spotted her vehicle northeast of Saskatoon. She was 89 years old.
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Saskatoon saw the second death of a missing senior within just a few months over the weekend.
 
Police put out a missing persons bulletin Friday for Kay Braget, 89.
 
Her body was found Saturday after a group of quadders spotted her vehicle northeast of Saskatoon.
 
Braget's death comes almost three months to the day since the death of Phillip Noonan, 88, whose body was found Dec. 19, 2016. He had been reported missing the day before.
 
Both seniors were believed to be suffering from dementia when they went missing.
 
Speaking on Gormley Monday morning, Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill said children, often runaways, make up the largest single group of missing persons reports.
 
However, he said cases of missing seniors are becoming more of a concern.
 
"We're seeing an increase with that, I guess as we're seeing an increase with dementia in our society," he said.
 
Weighill said police currently have what's called a Wandering Persons Database. Family who have concerns about a loved one can register that person's information with police. 
 
The wandering persons database is linked to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), a national network accessible to police services across the country.
 
In the U.S., 36 states currently have what's known as a Silver Alert System.
 
The system mimics the well-known Amber Alert system for missing children, but is used for missing seniors and, in some jurisdictions, people with mental health conditions that make them vulnerable.
 
So far, Silver Alerts haven't made their way to Canada. 

In British Columbia, a group has set up an independent Silver Alert system without government backing.

The idea has been debated in Ontario and is currently the subject of a private member's bill introduced March 1 in the Manitoba Legislature.

Weighill said he wasn't aware of any immediate plans for Silver Alerts in Saskatchewan. But, with the population aging across the province, he said the idea likely has some merit.
 
"We haven't really discussed that fully yet, but I think with the dementia issues we're starting to see in society, that's going to be a natural outcome," he said.

In the meantime, Weighill said people who want a loved one entered into the wandering persons database should contact police. The Saskatoon Police Services phone number for non-emergency calls is 306-975-8300.
 

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