Kathleen Pollock, a sufferer of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, was reported missing from her senior's home late Thursday night after a member of staff at Donway Place Retirement Residence checked her room, found it empty and notified police.
Pollock took a taxi from the senior's home to her former family estate, where she raised her family in Scarborough.
Police say they received the call around midnight — 12 hours after she was seen arriving at her former mansion. A contractor in a neighbouring house saw the elderly woman make her way through the snow.
"You can still see her footprints," said Loris Vits.
Vits rushed out to help her in the snow, but Pollock refused, saying she didn't need help. She was going home.
"I offered to walk her across because she only had her shoes on. She didn't have any boots on. But, she was finely dressed — had her makup on, lipstick and her hair all done," said Vits.
The contractor said the incident shook him as his mother also suffers from the disease.
"I understand, but I didn't realize because she was talking. She was lucid."
Mary Shulz, the National Director of Education at the Alzheimer's Society of Canada said that this type of incident is not unusual, but still deeply troubling. She said that nursing homes and private caregivers have a tough job to keep Alzheimer's patients from wandering but still allow them freedom.
"Your tolerance for safety and mine may be quite different, and so we all need to figure out how much we can do and how it's different for each resident," said Shulz.
Staff at the retirement residence said they are deeply saddened by the loss.
On Jan. 18 the remains of a Toronto man were found after he wandered away from his home in 2011.