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What is Silver Alert?

Silver Alert is an Amber Alert for missing seniors.

Silver Alert is a public notification system in the United States to broadcast information about missing persons – especially seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or other mental disabilities – in order to aid in their return.

Silver Alerts use a wide array of media outlets—such as commercial radio stations, television stations, and cable TV—to broadcast information about missing persons. Silver Alerts also use variable-message signs on roadways to alert motorists to be on the lookout for missing seniors. In cases in which a missing person is believed to have gone missing on foot, Silver Alerts have used Reverse 911 or other emergency notification systems to notify nearby residents of the neighborhood surrounding the missing person’s last known location.

Supporters of Silver Alert point to America’s growing elderly population as a reason to support new programs to locate missing seniors. Approximately 6 in 10 dementia victims will wander at least once, health care statistics show, and the numbers are growing worldwide, fueled primarily by Alzheimer’s disease. If not found within 24 hours, up to half of wandering seniors with dementia suffer serious injury or death

Silver Alert Legislation

S. 1814, the National Silver Alert Act of 2013, was introduced by Senator Joe Manchin on December 17, 2013. Senators Jay Rockefeller, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Coons, Claire McCaskill and Charles Schumer are original co-sponsors of Silver Alert legislation. S. 1814 directs the Department of Justice to establish a national communications network to assist efforts to assist regional and local search efforts for missing seniors and appoints a Department of Justice officer to serve as the Silver Alert Coordinator.  The National Silver Alert Act would also establish minimum standards for using and disseminating alerts issued through the network. Companion Silver Alert legislation, H.R. 5361, was introduced by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL) on July 31, 2014.

Click here for the latest news about Silver Alert legislation.

Silver Alert legislation has been pending in Congress since 2008. In May 2008, Representative Lloyd Doggett introduced the National Silver Alert Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill to encourage, enhance, and integrate Silver Alert plans throughout the United States. Similar legislation was filed by Representatives Gus Bilirakis and Sue Myrick. The three bills were combined into a single bill, H.R. 6064. The bill was passed by the House in September 2008 by a voice vote, but the 110th Congress adjourned before it could be considered in the U.S. Senate. The National Silver Alert Act was re-introduced in the 111th Congress as H.R. 632. It was passed by the House of Representatives on February 11, 2009 on a voice vote but was not taken up by the Senate.

35 states and New York City have Silver Alert or a similar program to locate missing seniors. The American Silver Alert Coalition supports state legislative efforts to bring Silver Alert to all 50 states.

Silver Alert Success Stories

Silver Alert implementation varies from state to state. There are no national statistics for the success rates of Silver Alerts. However, among states that publicly release statistics, retrieval rates for Silver Alerts indicate a high level of success.

  • In North Carolina, 128 Silver Alerts were issued in 2008. Of these, 118 seniors were safely recovered.
  • In Georgia, Mattie’s Call has as garnered a safe return for 70 of the 71 calls issued between its inception in 2006 and January 2009.
  • In Texas, the Silver Alert system was invoked 52 times in the first year following its inception in September 2007. Of these alerts, 48 of the missing seniors were located safely, and 13 of these recoveries were directly attributable to Silver Alert.
  • In Florida, 136 Silver Alerts were issued in its first year (2008–2009), leading to 131 safe recoveries. 19 of these recoveries were directly attributable to Silver Alert. Over two years, 227 Silver Alerts have been issued in Florida – with 220 seniors located safely, and 36 of those recoveries attributed directly to the Silver Alert.

About the Coalition

The American Silver Alert Coalition is an alliance of concerned citizens and seniors organizations. We are working together toward the shared goals of enacting Silver Alert programs in all 50 states and passage of federal legislation to support state-level Silver Alert programs.

Recent Articles


Massachusetts: Taunton Becomes 12th City to Adopt Silver Alert

The city of Taunton, Massachusetts became the 12th municipality in the Bay State to adopt a Silver Alert program to help find missing seniors.

From the article in the Taunton Daily Gazette:

The Silver City is now on board with a statewide pilot program to ensure that people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are quickly located if they somehow wander off by themselves.

A press conference with Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. publicizing Taunton’s participation in the Silver Alert program was held Tuesday at The Arbors assisted-living residential facility on County Street.


Silver Alert Success Story: 53-year old Arkansas man found in Louisiana

On April 30, 2014, a Silver Alert  was issued for 53-year-old Ottis McRae. McRae went missing in Norphlet, Arkansas and was later found safe in 80 miles away in Bossier Parish, Louisiana.

From the news story at The Magnolia Reporter:

Ottis Daniel McRae, 53, of Norphlet, who had been the subject of an Arkansas “Silver Alert,” has been found safe in the Bossier Parish, LA, jail.

A ground search that had been planned for McRae on Sunday morning in the Norphlet area came to a grinding halt when the Silver Alert was cancelled before dawn.

McRae was believed to have been missing since Monday but it was only since Thursday that the Silver Alert was issued.


Illinois: Silver Alert Legislation Passes Senate, Advances to House

Illinois recently came one step closer to adopting a program to find missing seniors, as the Illinois State Senate unanimously approved Silver Alert legislation.

SB 1846 was introduced by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) on February 20, 2015. The bill provides that the Department of State Police shall develop a coordinated program for a statewide emergency alert system when a person 21 years old or older who is believed to have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias is reported missing. This new system would be referred to as the Silver Alert system, and would include public notification of missing persons with dementia via electronic messages sent to all law enforcement agencies; use of the emergency alert system; the use of electronic billboards and message signs in coordination with the Illinois Department of Transportation if a vehicle is involved; and posting of the Silver Alert message on Illinois Lottery terminals.

The bill passed on a vote of 52-0 on April 30, 2015 and was sent over to the Illinois House of Representatives for further consideration.

As reported in the Quad City Times:

A system to find missing adults who have wandered off because of Alzheimer’s or dementia is advancing in the Illinois Legislature.

The so-called Silver Alert measure, which would be similar to the Amber Alert program for tracking missing children, is headed for further debate in the Illinois House after winning approval in the Senate.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, is the sponsor of the initiative.

“This problem is just giant and growing,” he said Friday.

State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield, a co-sponsor of the legislation, released a statement of support.

“It is imperative that Illinois has a coordinated plan for locating individuals with Alzheimer’s,” she said.

“The Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association estimates more than 200,000 Illinois residents have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias,” the statement said. “Nearly one-third of those will likely wander off, and the state currently doesn’t have an adequate system to alert the public.”


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