A family has called for the public’s help in searching for a missing 87-year-old who has severe dementia and hearing loss.
Alexander Henderson was last seen leaving his house in the Perth suburb of Hillarys at 4.30pm on Thursday. He has not been seen since, and concerns for his well being are growing by the day.
Mr Henderson’s family say they are very concerned, and say he may have gone as far the Perth Hills or Kings Park.
Mr Henderson’s grandson, Callum Standing, said his grandfather was likely to be “confused”, and may not be able to supply his name or details. However, he is wearing a next of kin necklace.
“He’s suffering from severe dementia and severe hearing loss, so what we’re dealing with is a man who’s probably quite confused,” he said.
Love of wildflower photography could draw Mr Henderson to bush locations
Mr Henderson’s love of photographing wildflowers could mean he has ventured into bush reserves, said Mr Standing. His family believes he has his camera with him.
“He’s very passionate about wildflowers, about nature, so he quite often goes through parks, bushes, and he goes and photographs wildflowers,” said Mr Standing.
Mr Standing said his grandfather has gone missing in the past, but they had always been able to find him. He has been known to use public transport and taxis previously.
“We’re really asking the public to go out and keep an eye out for him, in particular in the northern suburbs near the coastal area,” he said. “We’re hoping he has stayed in this region,” he said.
“So, if people are able to check their backyards, have a look in all the areas where you might expect to find someone who was lost and confused trying to get shelter and get some warmth.”
Mr Henderson was not wearing his hearing aids, his family says, so anyone who does approach him will have to speak loudly in order to be heard and understood. They described him as “very friendly”.
Cold nights and strong winds: “not what you want”
Overnight temperatures in Perth have dropped into the single digits since Mr Henderson has gone missing.
“There’s been some cold nights and strong easterly (winds) off the hills, it’s not what you want,” said Mr Standing.
“But you have to keep hope of a good outcome, we just have to keep positive,” he said.
Police are calling on anyone with dash cam or CCTV footage recorded in the Craigie area since last Thursday to review the film for sightings of Mr Henderson.
Mr Henderson is slim, fair skinned, has white hair, and a Scottish accent. He is 165cm tall. He may have been wearing a blue polo shirt, brown shorts, and a brown jumper.
Police have asked anyone who sees Mr Henderson to approach him, engage him in conversation and contact police immediately on 131 444 or even 000.
When people living with dementia go missing
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for people living with dementia to begin walking, and eventually become lost.
A common behaviour associated with dementia is walking without resting, which can not only be extremely tiring for people with dementia, it can lead them into life-threatening situations.
A study by Dr Margie MacAndrew from the Dementia Centre of Research Collaboration: Carers and Consumers, found that between 2011 and 2015, 130 people with dementia were reported missing. The average age of the missing person was 75 years, and more men (74 per cent) went missing. Media reports showed that 71 per cent of the individuals were found, though tragically, some were not found alive.
More than 35,000 people are reported missing each year in Australia. Most missing people fall into three categories: those living with a mental illness, young people, and those living with dementia or memory loss.
There are currently 320,000 people in Australia living with dementia – that number is expected to rise to 731,000 by 2050, meaning the number of people with dementia reported missing to police each year is likely to rise.