It was growing windy and dark on the afternoon last year that 77-year-old Thomas Montero wandered away from his Sun City Roseville home. Rain was expected.
"I always kept an eye on my husband," said Jan Montero, 75. "He walked out the front door. He liked to get the mail from our box at the end of the cul de sac, so I went to get the mail key. And then I couldn't find him."
"I was frantic," she said.
Missing persons reports involving the fragile elderly – in particular, dementia patients who have wandered from home – are slowly rising in the Sacramento area, reflecting a poignant national trend that's only expected to grow.
As they gradually diminish in front of our eyes, fading from vibrant old age to their deathbeds, they also slip away down suburban roads and busy city streets, wandering, lost, the subject of desperate family searches and heartbreaking law enforcement bulletins.
In Sacramento County, eight frail seniors were reported missing in 2009, double the number from 2008, according to Sgt. Tim Curran of the Sheriff's Department. Similarly, Roseville saw 24 cases of missing seniors in 2009, up from 14 a year earlier, said police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther.
"We're starting to see more of it, because more people are being diagnosed with dementia," said regional Alzheimer's Association spokeswoman Denise Davis. "It's very scary. We don't know what we're in for, I don't think."
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