SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - The Spokane County Medical Examiner has confirmed that 71-year-old Samuel Counts, who had been missing for a week, died of hypothermia.
Counts' body was found Friday near Mount Spokane. He was reported missing by his family, who says he suffered from dementia and likely veered from his path to the bakery to the Mount Spokane location because he used to live there.
Dementia is a slow-moving disease that can rob a loved one of their identity. It does not affect the long-term memory, but it does disintegrate the short-term memory. It can start as a harmless memory lapse about someone's name and then transform into something more dangerous.
Dementia is a disease many families struggle with in Spokane, but there is help and support through Elder Services. They are there to counsel individuals and families working through a dementia diagnosis and suggest starting the conversation about the disease early.
"Issues of pride, and issues of fear, fear that we won't be independent anymore, all of those things are barriers and challenges to individuals getting the help they need as quickly as possible," Pam Sloan, Director of Elder Services says.
Not only is a dementia diagnosis tough on an individual; family members will also feel the stress. That's why Elder Services has programs for family caregivers as well.
You can visit Elder Services' website for more information.