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Renewed calls for Silver Alerts in Quebec after West Island senior found dead

There are renewed calls for a 'Silver Alert' system in Quebec to help find missing seniors after an 85-year-old West Island man was found dead Monday.

The body of Makram Ebeid was found in a wooded area in Pierrefonds after he was reported missing last Thursday.

The older man had dementia.

"A missing person with dementia or Alzheimer's is an emergency," said Sam Noh, co-founder of B.C. Silver Alert. "If they're not found within 24 hours, the chance of survival decreases."

Noh is all too familiar with what the Ebeid family is going through. His father, Shin Noh, had Alzheimer's and went missing nearly ten years ago in British Columbia.

He was never found.

Noh went on to co-found B.C. Silver Alert and has been behind the push to implement the program in his province and in Canada.

During the 2020 provincial election, John Horgan promised an NDP government would implement a Silver Alert system in B.C. He made that promise to Sam Noh, whose father Shin Noh disappeared in the Coquitlam area in 2013.

"I do think if we had had the Silver Alert in place, he may be home with us," said Noh.

Silver Alerts operate like Amber Alerts for missing children, only for seniors with dementia and related neurological conditions.

There have been successful Silver Alert programs in the U.S., and a pilot project is underway in three areas of Quebec.

"The percentage of people who escape is relatively high because they simply have thoughts of doing something, including going back to work while they've been retired for 20 years," explained Dr. Jose Morais, chief of geriatric medicine for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Morais works with dementia patients and said cases like these will likely increase as the population ages.

"At the present time, there is probably in Canada 750,000 individuals with dementia, and this number will double in the next 15 years or so," he said.

Noh said implementing Silver Alerts is urgent because, more often than not, missing dementia patients are found by a member of the public.

"If we want to find them alive, it's important to inform the public as quickly as possible," he said.

They're also typically found within a few kilometres of their home -- like Ekaterini Vlachou, who went missing from Fleury Hospital in Montreal last week and was luckily found alive five hours later and three kilometres away.

Morais said alerts and GPS trackers could help, adding that people should also pay more attention by watching out for seniors in their neighbourhoods.

"We should as a community be sensitive to it and help each other," he said. Top Stories

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