Monday, January 10, 2011


Dementia-related illness is, because of this and subsequent events, a subject close to my heart so it is good to be able to share with you, tonight, a patient's story with a happy ending. What is more, it is a story of which Simi the dog wholeheartedly approves!

When Michele Giannone, an 87-year-old from the nearby town of Scicli, went missing at around midday on Saturday, his two daughters were quick to  raise the alarm as their father sometimes has memory difficulties. Carabinieri and municipal police immediately launched a search and they were joined by 66 men and women from Italy's Civil Protection Service plus one other very important helper - Kyra, a two-year-old labrador.

As soon as Kyra arrived on the scene, she indicated to her owner that the area to search was a path along the Modica-Scicli river and, despite an erroneous report that Mr Giannone's body had been found in the local cemetery, where he often went to visit the graves of his loved ones, officers and volunteers kept searching while Kyra kept excitingly wagging her tail and barking.

Finally, at 3.45 on Sunday afternoon, Mr Giannone was found, lying face-down in the water.  At first his rescuers feared the worst but Mr Giannone was alive, with grazes all over his body and signs of frostbite.  He was rushed to a local hospital and was later transferred to Modica's Ospedale Maggiore.  He would not have survived another night in the cold.

Mr Giannone's rescuers held a celebration and who do you think was the most feted guest?

Update:  Mr Giannone's condition is now said to be critical and my thoughts are with him and his family. Whatever happens, I think the positive side of this story is the fact that literally no stone was left unturned in the search for him and that a whole community showed that it cares about its elderly and most vulnerable citizens.


Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I'm glad they found him and I hope he'll be OK.

Here they have signs along the freeways where they can put up messages about accidents ahead, but they also put up Amber Alerts (when children are missing) and Silver Alerts (when the elderly are missing). I just commented today to my son that there seems to be more elderly missing than children. Today they were asking people to watch for an elderly person missing since Saturday and they gave a description of the car and license plate number. I'm glad they do that now. One time my Dad wandered away from Assisted Living and was hitch hiking along the side of the road in his pajamas. A couple of people passing by knew something was wrong and stopped and called the police. It was strange because Dad thought he was in college and hitch hiking in NYC, but just like that he came out of it and seemed fine. He had Alzheimer's, but could fool people. Some of his neighbors thought he was fine and I was wrong in thinking he couldn't stay alone.


Wonderful Story.

CherryPie said...

What a wonderful story :-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Betty. Yes, so do I. What a good idea those alerts you have there are. Alzheimer's is such a strange and cruel disease and it's true that sufferers can sometimes fool people - even those closest to them. Thanks, GCC and Cherie.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A wonderful story and well done to Kyra the labrador .. very very clever :-)

Ellee Seymour said...

It's wonderful to know that communities can pull together like this, and well done to Kyra. I hope he recovers from his ordeal.

Liz said...

A wonderful story. I do hope he pulls through this ordeal.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anne. Yes, Kyra was brilliant. Hi, Ellee. Yes, it is good to know, isn't it? My thoughts are with Michele too. Hi, Liz. No further news of him today so I am hoping that is a good sign.


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