“A Silver Alert is a public notification system in the united states to broadcast information about missing persons – especially seniors citizens with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other mental disabilities – in order to aid in locating them.” (Wikipedia)
Some states like Arizona, Florida, new jersey, California, Texas, and Wisconsin, have a system that allows the alert to be displayed on roadway messaging sign. The message literally gets your attention as it flashes across those large overhead screens on the highway.
The decision to issue a Silver Alert is made by the law enforcement agency investigating the report of a missing person. Relevant information for a Silver Alert would normally consist of the name and description of the missing person and in some cases the type, color, and license plate numbers of the vehicle being driven by the missing person. When this alert goes out, law enforcement is asking for input from everyone to help return this person home safely
Silver Alerts related to dementia, in the US, has become an everyday occurrence. The following is a snapshot of reported cases that made the news:
3/20/19, CBS 47/FOX 30, Action News Jax. “Could be anywhere, police searching for missing Jacksonville man with Dementia.” The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office is asking the community’s help in finding a missing Jacksonville man with Dementia. The missing man can be driving a 2018 red Ford Escape with a Massachusetts tag xxxxx.
3/20/19 Milaca, Minnesota, KARE 11 news. Police were asking for the public’s assistance in finding a missing man who has Dementia, last seen at his residence around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
3/20/19 ANTRIM COUNTY, Michigan, (WPBN/WGTU). Antrim County officials are looking for an endangered missing man with dementia. He was last seen in Central lake Tuesday morning driving a burgundy Chevrolet Silverado, could be heading for the Empire area.
3/19/19 WHOTV.com, Urbandale, Iowa: Missing woman with dementia reunited with family.
Original story: Police in Urbandale is searching for a woman with dementia who has been missing from her hotel room for hours. She was last seen around 2:00 a.m. Police don’t know where she may be headed
3/18/19 CBS 12 News, Boynton Beach, Fl – A man with dementia who broke out of an assisted-living facility has been found safe.
Original story: Police are asking for help in locating a 71-year old man after he smashed a window at the Parkside Inn and ran off around 6 a.m.
3/18/19 ABC 30, Tulare County, “Deputies find missing man with Dementia”
Original story: The Tulare County sheriff is asking the public for help to locate a missing elderly man with dementia. He was last seen Sunday afternoon near road 191 and Avenue 146 in Poplar
3/17/19, Phoenix, Arizona, KTAR News – A silver alert was canceled Tuesday night for an 83-year-old Apache Junction man with dementia. The Arizona, Department of Public Safety said someone brought the missing man to the Apache Junction police station, and he was unharmed
3/16/19, Duluth, Minn. Western Central Tribune – A woman with dementia who was reported missing from Duluth home was found dead Friday night, March 15, authorities said.
3/16/19, Milwaukee, WI (CBS 58) Missing 74-year-old Milwaukee man found safe.
Original story: Milwaukee Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 74-year-old Milwaukee man who has gone missing.
3/15/19, Beavercreek, Journal News – An endangered missing adult alert has been canceled for 83-year-old Beavercreek man. The missing man returned home safe, according to police.
According to Wikipedia, in December 2005, Oklahoma state Representative Fred Perry announced his intention of introducing an Amber Alert for missing seniors and nicknamed it Silver Alert. The resolution was passed in the Oklahoma house in March 2006. Similar programs were introduced in Georgia and Florida soon after.
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia now have silver Alert or some similar program that targets missing seniors. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have missing person recovery programs called “Silver alert.”
The National Silver Alert Act was passed by the House of Representatives and is currently pending in the 113th Congress. This act has been endorsed by the Assisted Living Federation of America, Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Elderly justice Coalition, National Silver Haired Congress, The National Association of Police Organizations, and the National Sheriffs’ Association
“Because the implementation of Silver Alert systems varies from state to state, there are no national statistics for the retrieval rates resulting from Silver Alerts. However, among the states that publicly release statistics, retrieval rates indicate a high level of success”. (Wikipedia)
In addition, some states have expanded Silver Alert to include all children and adults with mental or developmental disabilities, therefore activation criteria will vary from state to state.
In Florida, where the Silver Alert is used primarily for persons traveling by motor vehicle, the person:
It is also important to remember that a person suffering from Dementia, driving on the highway at 75 miles an hour can create a very dangerous situation
If we look back at the snapshot of reported cases, we will notice that 9 out of 10 persons that were reported missing, went missing from their home or similar. Only one person got out of a care facility, which leaves some unanswered questions:
Are we doing enough to educate the public about Dementia?
Is the message reaching the most vulnerable?
Are family members caring for loved ones with dementia fully aware of the dangers?
What else can we do to make home caregiving safer?
How many more vulnerable individuals are out there that have not yet been identified?
Silver Alert. (2019). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Alert
FDLE – Silver Alert. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Amber-Plan/Silver-Alert.aspx