Coquitlam's Noh family supports Silver Alert bill
The son of missing Coquitlam man Shin Noh is in Victoria today to support a private members bill promoting a Silver Alert program that would alert authorities and the media when people with cognitive impairments go missing.
Sam Noh's father had mid-stage Alzheimer disease and went missing in September; he has not been found.
If a Silver Alert program had been in place, Sam Noh said, more people would have known about his dad's disappearance sooner and he might have been located before the leads went stale.
"We would have found him," Noh insists, "Time is of the essence when people are wandering.”
If approved, the program would be modelled after the Amber Alert system used by the police in certain child abduction situations to assist in the search for the child and suspect. Noh said he was told it wouldn't cost much money to implement but would piggy back onto existing networks and resources.
Selina Robinson, MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville, who introduced the Silver Alert Act on Tuesday, said it would allow authorities to prioritize and co-ordinate response to alert the public of a missing person who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of cognitive impairment.
"A Silver Alert designation would say: 'Hey neighbour, take a look in your back yard, take a look in the forest and gullies near your home,'" Robinson said.
She hopes to have a conversation with Health Minister Terry Lake, who has indicated he has some privacy concerns about the program, and she wants the BC Liberal government to put a Silver Alert in place soon because the number of people with dementia is on the rise.
"As caregivers, it's our generation who will be impacted or it could be me we're putting a Silver Alert in place for," Robinson said, noting that wandering is common among people with dementia.
Establishing a Silver Alert program is only one of a number of improvements to Alzheimer's support Sam Noh said he would like to see. He thinks more information should be made available about wandering and what to do about it.
The call for more support for families comes as the Alzheimer Society of BC is demanding a national plan to address gaps in services with workshops in cities across B.C., including one in Coquitlam in March.
Meanwhile, Shin Noh's family has posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to finding him alive.
Noh, 65, went missing Sept. 18, 2013. He is Korean, about 5'6" tall and 150 lb. and has Alzheimer disease. His son said a few leads were generated from the reward poster but nothing solid.