WATCH: On Sunday, the family and friends of Oak Bay resident Gladys Barman will gather and remember her at a memorial service. The 82-year-old died after wandering away from her car early this summer. Her family says she suffered from memory loss and cognitive issues in the weeks before her July 5 disappearance. Now they, and others, are advocating for a service that will alert the public when a vulnerable senior goes missing. Mary Griffin reports.
Thirty-six states south of the border operate the Silver Alert System.
Similar to the Amber Alert, the public notification system triggers immediate notifications on radio and television, as well as highway signs, when a vulnerable senior is reported missing.
It’s a service that’s now offered in Manitoba and Alberta, but it’s not available in British Columbia.
In July, Neil Barman’s 82 year old mother, Gladys Barman disappeared.
“That would have helped in our case tremendously. Our coverage was not as wide as an alert system would be,” said Neil.
In the hours and days after her disappearance, Neil put up posters of his missing mother. She was last seen filling up her car at a gas station on West Saanich Road July 5.
Police issued a province-wide bulletin and an intensive search continued. Her vehicle was discovered two weeks later on a logging road in the Lake Cowichan area, but there was no sign of Gladys until her body turned up near Lake Cowichan almost a month later.
Her family said she developed cognitive issues, and memory loss in the weeks before her disappearance and death. Her son believes that a Silver Alert Service could have made a difference.
“It certainly would have helped the police, and us, get the word out more widely, more quickly,” said Barman.
In a Vancouver suburb, a similar event played out five years ago. Shin Noh disappeared from his Coquitlam home on Sept. 17, 2013. Family and friends quickly organized a search, but no trace of Noh ever turned up.
“He just decided to go for a walk on his own, and he just never made it back home,” said his son, Sam Noh, who is also in favour of the Silver Alert System. “We are not utilizing the tools, and the resources that are available to us today in order to help find a missing person.”
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 60 per cent of seniors with dementia will wander, and are at risk of getting lost. Silver Alert System could be the tool to help.