WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee recently profiled the Silver Alert program in Tennessee for its story “Silver Alert an option for law enforcement to help find missing elderly.”
The story highlights the close relationship between local law enforcement and Alzheimer’s organizations in Tennessee to teach Silver Alert best practices to find missing seniors.
“When a senior goes missing, it’s similar to the Amber Alert we have for children,” said the Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Janice Wade-Whitehead.
Silver Alert became law back in 2009, but there’s no state funding for it, so law enforcement has the option whether to participate in the Silver Alert Program.
“It’s infrastructure that’s put into place. There’s lots of educational opportunities for law enforcement to find out more about the Silver Alert,” said Wade-Whitehead.
“The Alzheimer’s association has come over…trained each individual officer,” said Blount County Sheriff, James Lee Berrong.
Although New York does not yet have a statewide Silver Alert, many city and county governments have adopted Silver Alert programs to find missing seniors. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office recently promoted this initiative.
It is called the Silver Alert System: if you have a loved one who suffers from dementia or a related cognitive disorder and they tend to wander away, this new local law could help ensure his or her safe return.
The law was created late last year and is now up and operational. It provides a standard protocol for area law enforcement agencies to follow, especially in disseminating important information to the media, if someone is reported missing.
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