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November 22, 2011

California Seniors Call for Silver Alert

by silveralertbill

California is by far the largest of states that lack a Silver Alert program to find missing seniors. But a group of advocates in the California Senior Legislature are trying to change that.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Although most wandering seniors are found by police or helpful strangers within a few hours, only half of those who remain lost for more than 24 hours are found alive.

“This is an issue that keeps families and caregivers awake at night,” said Elizabeth Edgerly, the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California’s chief operating officer. “It’s their biggest fear.”

As one of the top proposals of its recent session, the California Senior Legislature, a volunteer advisory body on aging issues, recommended that the state adopt a Silver Alert system to enlist public help in finding lost and fragile seniors. More than 30 states already have some form of the system, which is similar to the Amber Alert network for missing children and piggybacks on the existing technology.

“It’s surprising California doesn’t already have this. We’re a leader in everything else,” said Joseph Murphy, 77, the Senior Legislature senator from Tracy who proposed the measure.

The Silver Alert would require authorities to search immediately when an at-risk adult goes missing, rather than waiting 24 to 48 hours for a missing-person report to be filed. Most Sacramento-area law enforcement agencies already respond quickly when frail seniors wander, but Murphy said a statewide system would impose that standard across California.

“One of the secondary benefits would be increased public awareness,” said Area 4 Agency on Aging planner Will Tift. “It’s very different if you see a small child wandering unattended.

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