June 6, 2018 4:47 pm
Updated: June 6, 2018 6:48 pm

‘Silver Alert’ for missing seniors being tested in Canadian cities

WATCH: As the number of people diagnosed with dementia grows across Canada, vulnerable seniors are increasingly being reported missing. As Sarah Offin reports, officials are now creating public alerts to help reunite lost seniors with their families.

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Officials in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto joined forces on Wednesday in an effort to help missing seniors find their way.

“You can appreciate that with the growing aging populations, we’re going to have many more seniors who will wander and go missing,” said Insp. Patty McCallum with the Calgary Police Service.

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“As police try to support these cases as best we can, they’re very labour intensive, resource intensive. So the more public eyes we have on the situation the better and the sooner someone will be found.”

Police are teaming up with health workers, social services and volunteers in a day-long training exercise to test out a new Silver Alert system.

Much like an Amber Alert, the Silver Alert would notify people in a designated area when a senior goes missing. By contrast, people would have to opt-in to the program for areas where they live and work.

“About 60 per cent of all seniors with dementia will wander at some point and become at risk of getting lost,” said Paul Bartel from the Alzheimer Society of Calgary.

Roger Marple was one of the volunteers taking part in Wednesday’s exercise. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago. He said he has already been lost a few times.

“There’s two degrees. One is where I’ve been around town, I’m going somewhere and wherever I’m trying to get to isn’t where I think it is. And then there’s another degree of getting lost, where… the most lost I’ve ever been is in the hallway of my own apartment where I live.”

Calgary Police respond to about 3800 calls for missing person reports every year.

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