An article written by the University Massachusetts School of Communications entitled “Silver Alert registry aids police in search for missing elders with dementia” reviews the progress being made launching Silver Alert in Massachusetts. Twelve communities in the Bay State have begun pilot Silver Alert programs within their jurisdictions:
The Office of Program Development within Commonwealth Medicine helped kick off a program designed to improve the success of the Massachusetts Silver Alert Community Response System. The state’s Silver Alert law, which took effect in 2010, sets up procedures and protocols for public safety and human services agencies to follow when seniors with dementia are reported missing.
Local police departments and elder services agencies in the 12 communities participating in the program are now working with families to collect recent photographs and information about seniors with dementia who might one day become lost. Pre-registering seniors with dementia will enable the local police department to begin searching for them immediately if they are reported missing instead of having to wait while the information is obtained.
The New York Times recently did an article on missing seniors entitled “With Dementia, Stepping Outside for Fresh Air Can Mean Going Astray.” The article had praise for the Silver Alert program currently operating in New York City.
If there is a silver lining to the silver alert, it is this: they generally end well. They differ from other missing-persons cases in that the missing are not hiding from anyone, and are not being held. They drift toward parks, or to the subway. They are usually found in less than 24 hours, said Lt. Christopher Zimmerman, commanding officer of the New York Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit. There have been more than 50 silver alerts since the program began in New York in 2011, but most cases are closed before reaching Lieutenant Zimmerman’s office.
A recent letter to the editor in the Tampa Tribune praised the success of the Florida Silver Alert program:
Did you know in December there were 14 Florida “Silver Alerts” activated, with four in the Tampa Bay area? With the new year upon us, the University of South Florida Memory Disorders Clinic, sponsored by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, would like to remind residents of the importance of the Silver Alert program. The program is designed for missing seniors who are cognitively impaired, extremely vulnerable and can easily become confused and disoriented even in familiar surroundings. We strongly believe Silver Alert is vital for helping law enforcement officers locate these individuals quickly and efficiently, before tragedy occurs.
For more information on the Silver Alert program, please go to http://www.floridasilveralert.com/home. If you have questions, or would like to help or learn more about the Florida Silver Alert program, please call the University of South Florida Memory Disorders Clinic at (813) 974-8900.
Andrea Dombrowski, Tampa