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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


South Carolina: Advocates Push for Adoption of Silver Alert

Advocates for seniors in South Carolina are pushing for adoption of a statewide Silver Alert program to find missing seniors, and are working with state Representative Wendell Gilliard on Silver Alert legislation.


Family members of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s often fear that person could walk away or go missing. When they do, law enforcement responds.

“We give it everything we have. We call search and rescue. We call out helicopters. We call out dogs. We do everything humanly possible. We’ll put it on the interstate to say they’re missing, notify all local agencies and put it in NCIC,” said Sgt. Mark Bryant with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.

Bryant said South Carolina does not have a silver alert system, like one many other states do have.

“It possibly could help but I don’t know that more can be done,” Bryant said.

But Dr. Jacobo Mintzer called silver alerts “a huge resource.” Mintzer sits on the board of the South Carolina Alzheimer’s Association and is the director of the Roper St. Francis Clinical Biotechnology Research Institute.

He said he worked with local lawmakers and pushed for a silver alert system, but it hadn’t happened. Former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer also led a push for silver alerts in 2008, but said the bill lost support when the news media opposed it.


Silver Alert Success Story: 87-Year-Old Texas Man Found in Louisiana

On December 8, 2014, a Silver Alert was issued for 87-year-old Gerald Zeringue. Zeringue went missing in Baytown, Texas and was later found safe 300 miles away in Norco, Louisiana.

From KPRC-TV in Houston:

A Silver Alert issued for an 87-year-old Baytown man has been canceled after the man was found safe.

Gerald Noel Zeringue last seen around 6 a.m. Sunday at 4814 Burning Tree in Baytown.  He was driving a tan, 2000 Cadillac Deville with TX License Plate CYT0516.

He is diagnosed with a cognitive impairment.  He was last seen wearing a dark blue wind suit and white New Balance shoes.

The senior citizen was located in Norco, Louisiana and is being reunited with his family.


Silver Alert Success Story: 78-Year-Old Oklahoma Man Found in Colorado

On November 30, 2014, a Silver Alert issued for 78-year old Marcellus Lambert. Lambert went missing in Ponca City, Oklahoma and was found safe 475 miles away in Trinidad, Oklahoma.

From the story at The Daily Oklahoman:

PONCA CITY — A Silver Alert for a Ponca City man was canceled Monday after he was found in Colorado, Ponca City Police Department spokeswoman Sherry Bowers said.

Marcellus Lambert, 78, was found after a minor traffic accident near Trinidad, Colo. The Colorado Highway Patrol notified Ponca City police of Lambert’s whereabouts about 8:30 a.m. Monday, Bowers said.

Bowers said Lambert has family in Colorado. Arrangements are being made to get him home to his wife, she said.

Lambert had no injuries in the accident, Bowers said.


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