The body of an elderly man who was reported missing on Friday was found in a nearby park on Sunday morning.
The family of Luigi Di Sante said he had dementia, and was living at home with his wife, who was unwell.
When a nurse went to check on his wife on Friday, she raised the alarm when she noticed Mr Di Sante, who was 86, wasn’t home, and a search of the area began.
Hundreds of people shared posts on social media about the missing man, encouraging them to join the search.
Sadly, a local man found Mr Di Sante at a nearby park on Sunday morning.
“We hope he is resting in peace”
A family member thanked all those involved in the search in a Facebook post, and said, “It’s not the outcome anyone would wish for, but we hope now he is resting in a much better place.”
The man lived in the same home for 47 years, and spoke little English.
Conditions were tough in Melbourne over the weekend, with temperatures falling into the low single digits overnight.
How can we help those at risk of leaving home?
Colin McDonnell, dementia and wellbeing consultant with Calvary Care, told HelloCare a way you can prevent someone living with dementia from leaving home, or to keep them safe if they do, is to get them to wear a GPS watch or disguise doorways.
“People can monitor you if you’ve wearing a GPS watch. It depends on the person, but you can call someone with a GPS watch and say, ‘Stay where you are, I’m coming to get you’.”
Mr McDonnell said doorways can be covered with a curtain or disguised with a painting, for example of a bookcase.
“But it all depends on the person and the level of dementia,” he said.
The delicate balance between independence and safety
The case will be investigated by the coroner, and until then, exactly what happened won’t be known, but it does raise the issue of the extreme difficulty in finding the delicate balance between keeping older people safe, while at the same time preserving their independence and allowing them the dignity of risk.
More and more older people are choosing to remain living in their own homes rather than going into care, understandably.
But it can be very difficult in these situations to know how far to let independence go, and when to take steps to limit independence to ensure safety, and how to practically put those limits in place.
Another elderly Melbourne man remains missing
In a separate incident, police fear for the safety another Melbourne man who has now been missing for more than 10 days.
Paul Kelly, who is 77, was last seen at a Westfield shopping centre in Geelong on 13 June. Police believe he may have been travelling to Torquay, Frankston, or Dandenong.
Mr Kelly has a thin build, blue eyes, a shaved head, a white beach, and a bandage on his left leg. He may be in a wheelchair.
If you see him contact Corio police station on 5273 9555 or dial 000.
Main image: Melbourne Police.