April 16, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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Exclusive |  Elderly disappearances are on the rise in Quebec

Exclusive | Elderly disappearances are on the rise in Quebec

Months after the launch of a pilot program to rapidly identify missing persons, the number of elderly disappearances has increased significantly in Montreal.

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According to statistics obtained by TVA Nouvelles, there is a more than 30% increase in the number of disappearances among people aged 60 and over in one year, just in the first seven months of the year.

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If we compare the figures for 2023 with the same period in 2020, this is an increase of almost 110%.

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According to Dr. David Lussier, a geriatrician at the University of Montreal’s Institute of Geriatrics, the increase is explained by the aging of the population.

“The older you get, the more likely you are to have cognitive problems. But at age 85, about one in three have a cognitive problem severe enough to affect their functioning,” he explains.

The SPVM, for its part, says it is using several methods to find these many missing elderly people.

“In some cases, we can bring out cavalry, cycle squads, special intervention teams with special equipment to help with the investigation. So, for example, we are talking about thermal cameras that help us do research in the forest,” said SPVM spokesperson Véronique Dubuc.

However, this fact is not unique to Montreal. In Quebec, too, disappearances of elderly people are common. This weekend, two men in their 70s were found less than 24 hours after they went missing.

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Fortunately, there are solutions for relatives of seniors with dementia.

“It’s always about finding a balance between zero risk, where people are isolated in restricted units, and then eventually they have no quality of life, but they don’t wander, versus managing the risk. I was in Norway, I saw soles. They had GPS soles,” says Laval University’s Professor Philip Wyer of the Faculty of Nursing Sciences.

“Tell him when you leave your house, call me before you leave and tell me where you are going […] If the person has a cell phone with locate facility, it is easy to know where the person is […] Other geolocation tools like AirTags or GPS chips can be used,” he adds.

People have a role too. To prevent further increases in the number of missing seniors, call authorities if you see a disoriented senior.

– In collaboration with Hadi Hasin