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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


Hawaii Introduces New Silver Alert Legislation

Five members of the Hawaii House of Representatives, Reps. Beth Fukumoto Chang, Lauren Matsumoto, Feki Pouha, Cynthia Thielen, and Gene Ward — have introduced legislation to establish a Silver Alert program in Hawaii to help locate missing seniors.

The new bill, HB 1971, notes that:

The legislature finds that some seniors are at risk of wandering from residences or senior care living facilities due to impaired awareness as a result of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Studies show more than sixty per cent of seniors with such conditions will wander, and if not found within twenty four hours, up to half will suffer serious injury or death. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 14.3 per cent of the population in our State is over the age of sixty-five.  Therefore the legislature desires to mirror the success of the Maile Amber alert program for the prompt and safe retrieval of displaced seniors. A majority of states already have such a program in place.


Silver Alert Success Story: 83-year old Wisconsin Man Found in South Dakota

On November 4, 2015, Silver Alert was issued for 95-year-old Albert Van Der Veen. Van Der Veen went missing in Delavan, Wisconsin, was spotted in Evansville, Wisconsin and was later found safe in Illinois, a journey of approximately 65 miles.

From the news story at WMTV-15:

DELAVAN, Wis.— A 95-year-old Delavan man who went missing Wednesday morning has been found safe in Illinois, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

The Silver Alert for Albert Van Der Veen was canceled at 8:36 a.m. Thursday.
Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2015–11:49 a.m.

DELAVAN, Wis.–A Silver Alert has been issued for a 95-year-old Delavan man who was spotted in Evansville and is believed to be traveling towards Dane County Wednesday.

Authorities say Albert Van Der Veen left his residence in the city of Delavan around 5:00 a.m. Wednesday. He was spotted at a gas station in Evansville at 6:40 a.m. Wednesday. He left the gas station traveling westbound on Highway 14 towards Dane County.



Silver Alert Success Story: 78-year old Wisconsin Man Found in Indiana

On October 1, 2015, a Silver Alert was issued for 78-year-old Wayne Kreft. Kreft went missing in Monroe, Wisconsin and was found 170 miles away in Hobart, Indiana.

From the news story at WKOW-TV:

A 78-year old Monroe man who was reported missing late Thursday afternoon was found a few hours later, more than 170-miles away in Indiana.

At about 7:50 p.m, authorities in Hobart, Indiana contacted the Green County sheriff’s department, which had issued a Silver Alert for Wayne P. Kreft about an hour earlier.

Hobart police say Kreft had been in a car crash, but was not hurt.

Authorities contacted Kreft’s family and they will bring him back home.



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