Skip to content

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


Silver Alert Success Story: 81-year old Oklahoma man found in Iowa

On March 20, 2015, a Silver Alert  was issued for 81-year-old Roland Callies. Callies went missing in Nowata, Oklahoma, and was later found safe 500 miles away in Orange City, Iowa.

From the news story at KWTV-9:

The Nowata County Sheriff’s Office says a missing man has been located and is OK. A Silver Alert has been cancelled for 81-year-old Roland Callies, who had last been seen in Nowata Thursday.

He has some health problems and had left home without his medication, so authorities were concerned.

On Saturday, he was found in Orange City, Iowa, authorities say.


Silver Alert Success Story: North Carolina Teen Found Safe in Texas

On February 27, 2015, a Silver Alert was issued for Hallana Hankins. Hankins went missing in Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina and was found safe 1200 miles away in Fort Worth, Texas.

From the story in the Wilmington Star News:

Officials with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said Texas authorities safely located a missing Brunswick County teen Wednesday.

The N.C. Center for Missing Persons canceled a Silver Alert for Hallana Hankins, 18, who was last seen in the Boiling Spring Lakes area Feb. 27, possibly heading toward Arlington, Texas. The Silver Alert said Hankins has a cognitive disorder and was endangered. Emily Flax, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said Hankins made contact with her family over the phone and authorities in Texas safely located her in the Fort Worth area.

Wisconsin Silver Alert Program Posts Early Success in First Seven Months of Operation

Statewide Silver Alert Delivers Success to Wisconsin

August 1, 2014 may have been an ordinary day for most people, but for senior citizens and their families living in Wisconsin, August 1st may have changed their lives. What does this day have to do with senior citizens in Wisconsin? On that day last year, Attorney General, J. B. Van Hollen announced that Wisconsin would begin their state wide Silver Alert Program.

Silver Alert is very similar to an Amber Alert, however it is used for seniors over the age of 65 who have gone missing who may have dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another mental illness or disease. The goal of the Silver Alert is to locate these missing seniors and return them safely to their homes. In order for a Silver Alert to be activated, local authorities ask the state highway patrol to send out electronic bulletins providing information about the missing person or people.

Wisconsin’s Silver Alert program was first inspired in 2013 when a woman diagnosed with dementia, Claire Baeb, and her husband, Leo were found several hundred miles away from their destination to visit family.. Such long-distance wanderings are not unusual. According to Wyeth Ruthven, Executive Director of Silver Alert Coalition, 83 cases of Silver Alerts have been documented since 2009 in which a senior went missing in one state and was found in another state.

In three short months, the legislation to enable Wisconsin to begin their Silver Alert Program, Assembly Bill 710, was introduced, discussed and voted on, and passed. On the 31 of January, 2014 Bill 710 was introduced to the House by Representatives Skowronski, Kaufert, Weininger, Thiesfeldt, Kulp, Tittl, Bies, Ballweg, Petryk, Brooks, Krug, Kleefisch, Knodl, Czaja, Swearingen, Endsley and Kerkman, and was cosponsored by Senators Carpenter, L. Taylor and Gudex. After the consideration of many committees, it was voted on and passed unanimously.

After signing Assembly Bill 710 Assembly Bill 710 last April, Governor Walker said “When an elderly person living with the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s is missing, every minute counts.” Wisconsin, along with 41 other states, have now enacted Silver Alert or another program similar to Silver Alert.

As of January 2015, approximately 116,000 people with dementia are living in Wisconsin and reportedly 60% of them will wander sometime during the progression of their disease, as reported by the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network. Implementing a Silver Alert in Wisconsin has had positive feedback, especially from Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen who said, “Silver Alerts will help families and law enforcement locate vulnerable seniors more quickly and bring them home unharmed. I’m thankful to lawmakers, the Governor and our citizen partners in working toward this important tool in furthering public safety.

In the seven months that Silver Alert has been effective in Wisconsin, Fox 6 News had reported that there have been 18 alerts sent out publicly, 15 of which have resulted in the missing senior being found and reunited with their family and loved ones.

Claire Baeb is thankful for the legislation of Silver Alert in Wisconsin, as she knows how critical it can be to help locate someone who has gone missing with dementia or Alzheimer’s. “We hope that everyone supports Silver Alert. One day you may need it yourself.”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.