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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

27
Jul

Silver Alert Success Story: 89-Year-Old Oklahoma Man Found In Kansas

On July 25, 2019, a Silver Alert was issued for 89-year-old Wesley Collins. Collins went missing in Nowata County, Oklahoma and was safe 150 miles away in Wichita, Kansas.

According to the news story on KTUL-TV:

UPDATE: Collins’ family says he was found safe in Wichita, Kansas.

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – The Nowata County Sheriff’s Office has issued a Silver Alert for 89-year-old Wesley Collins.

He was last seen around 11 a.m. on Thursday.

26
Jul

American Silver Alert Coalition Profiled

The American Silver Alert Coalition was the subject of a recent profile by Considerable.com regarding the growth of Silver Alerts in the United States.

The requirements for a Silver Alert vary from state to state. Wyeth Ruthven, executive director at the American Silver Alert Coalition, told Considerable, “The key differential is the qualifying criteria for an endangered senior or adult. Some states require prior medical documentation of a mental or developmental impairment. Others apply to anyone over the age of 65. Still others apply to any adult of any age.”

Read more at Considerable.com.

15
Jun

Tennessee Reviews Silver Alert System After Family Urges Improvements

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has launched a review of the Tennessee Silver Alert program, according to TBI Director David Rausch.

“The review will also include looking at best practices throughout the country on how these programs are structured and implemented, as we would want any system in Tennessee to be a model for others considering this effort,” Rausch said.

The review comes after a Hamilton County family criticized current Silver Alert protocols in Tennessee. The family of Geneva Atkins has advocated for a more robust Silver Alert system after Mrs. Atkins was found deceased after a search of several days. In the case of Mrs. Atkins, a Silver Alert was not issued until 24 hours after she had gone missing.

Campbell says if people had known to be on the lookout for her mother sooner, they wouldn’t be planning her funeral today.

“If we can put the same emphasis on the Silvers as we do the Amber Alert, then my mom could have been found within minutes,” said Campbell.

She wants to construct a data-base for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients: after a diagnosis,that information would go local law enforcement (with the patient’s permission).