Implement Nationwide Silver Alerts for Missing Seniors
Missing children grab headlines, but missing senior citizens are far more common. In the United States there are currently more than 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease and that figure is expected to grow to as much as 16 million by 2050.
According to an article by Alex Johnson, an MSNBC reporter,
“About 60 percent of such patients wander away from their homes or care facilities at some point, according to the Alzheimer’s Association; about half of those who are not found within 24 hours suffer serious injury or even death.”
The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons instituted the Silver Alert program in November 2007, inspired by Amber Alerts for missing children. Of the nearly 40 alerts issued in North Carolina, all but four of the missing persons were found alive, the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety said. The numbers are almost identical in Texas, where a similar program was also implemented last year.
Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, who cared for his own father as he struggled through the final stages of Alzheimer’s, noted that few states have senior alert programs — only 11, with others considering them. At the time of my writing, there is a bill on the Senate floor sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, which would establish a national Silver Alert communications network to coordinate search efforts and give grants to states to take part.
Police and policy-makers said they would welcome the help, saying in general, it is harder to find a missing senior citizen than it is to find a missing child. People may think it odd if they see a child walking alone and approach them, but most people may not think it out of the ordinary if a senior is walking alone. Or they do not want to embarrass the Golden Oldie or invade their privacy if they’re outside on their own.
I’ve recommended before as part of a Senior Safety Net for Golden Oldies/our aging parents that they wear MedicAlert ID bracelets. These are also used in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program. Silver Alerts would take this concept to an even broader level of action and response.
I’m hoping this important program will be implemented quickly nationwide and prove to be as effective as Amber Alerts have been!
To read the original article which contains the 11 states that have implemented the program, please click here.