Monday, August 2, 2010

Silver Alert!

By Cynthia Caron

Many ask LostNMissing Inc “What exactly is a Silver Alert?”  Most are under the assumption that Silver Alerts are specifically for the elderly who have wandered away from home.  In reality it is thankfully much more!  Many states include not only our seniors but anyone who may have cognitive impairments or developmentally disabled.  Our younger generation, usually over the age of 14, who have autism may also qualify should they wander and go missing.

The Silver Alert does vary from State to State and not all US States have adopted a Silver Alert program.  Some states, such as Connecticut, will also include those with mental or emotional disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia.  Because Silver Alerts are relatively new in the United States many police agencies and the general public will need educated regarding the program provided by their individual state.  As of this writing, approximately 24 states are active participants in this program.  Many more states are in the process of presenting their state legislatures to petition for Silver Alerts or are in the process of implementing a program.

(*)26 states have Silver Alert or similar programs targeting missing seniors. 18 states have missing senior recovery programs that are formally called “Silver Alert”:
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
Additionally, 8 states have programs to help locate missing seniors that are not officially called “Silver Alert” but contain criteria similar to existing Silver Alert programs:
  • Alabama, Missing Senior Alert
  • Delaware, Gold Alert
  • Colorado, Missing Senior Citizen Alert
  • Georgia, Mattie’s Call
  • Kentucky, Golden Alert
  • New Hampshire, Missing Senior Citizen Alert
  • Ohio, Missing Adult Alert
  • Virginia, Senior Alert
Plus, 8 states have missing persons alert systems with broader criteria than conventional Silver Alert programs. These missing person alerts apply to larger categories of endangered persons, or apply to all missing people, regardless of age or impairment:
  • Arizona, Endangered Persons Alert
  • Minnesota, Brandon’s Law
  • Missouri, Endangered Person Advisory
  • Montana, Missing and Endangered Persons Advisory
  • New Mexico, Endangered Person Advisory
  • South Dakota, Endangered Persons Advisory
  • Utah, Endangered Person Advisory
  • Wyoming, Endangered Person Advisory
10 states have considered Silver Alert legislation in the past year:
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts-House passes Bill to Instate Program. (July 2010)
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin

Local law enforcement must activate a Silver Alert by following the criteria set forth in their state.  States that do not have a present Silver Alert may be close to implementing.  Massachusetts just voted and the bill is before the Senate and will then need signed by the Governor.   States that have adopted the Silver Alert have patterned their criteria by the Silver Alert Initiative which can be read here:

The public can check with their local Alzheimer’s Association to find out if their state is close to having a program in place, or to even volunteer to assist with helping to get the program implemented.  Most all states that do have active programs  have been very successful in helping to locate those who have wandered away from home.  If you know a family who has a loved one who may potentially wander away from home, or have cognitive disorders, do help spread the word about the Silver Alert Program as the better educated those families are, the better chance that should their love one wander from home be located safely.  There are many programs that enable families to be proactive and register a potential “wanderer” ahead of time so that should they go missing a simple phone call and the police can have all the pertinent information on hand regarding the missing person. This can save valuable time and enable the police to actively pursue looking for their family member.  Some programs which offer free registrations are Missing Patient.Com, , another is a private company (not a government agency) called National Silver Alert Program  There are also numerous products available to help keep track of those who may wander from GPS devices to alarms and even special shoes that have a GPS device installed in the heels.

Family and private caretakers, facilities, home health agencies and group homes should all be aware if a program exists in their state and also have something in place to help monitor their family member, or resident, as well as have as much information readily available including a recent photograph (preferable a head and shoulder photo) of those in their care.  Minutes count when a loved one with a cognitive disorder wanders away from home.

(*)updated information on statistics gathered from Wikipedia

Cynthia L. Caron
LostNMissing, Inc.

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1 comment:

  1. Thankfully, technological advances is making it increasingly easier to find an elderly person who may have wandered away from home or a Assisted Living Facility.


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