In Missouri, one family’s anguish over a missing loved one is spurring calls to action by seniors advocates in the Show Me State.
The search for 63-year-old Richard Solis continues after a search party wrapped up Labor Day without any sign of him.
Solis’ older sister, Theresa Trent, has been living with the unknown for the last nine days and that, she said, is the worst part.
“Especially since we don’t know and we may never know,” Trent said. “That’s the difficult part of it, not knowing.”
Trent said her brother has dementia and a seizure disorder. She said without his medication, he could be in danger. In addition, he is soft-spoken and shy, so he is less likely to approach strangers for help.
“I would say if he came up on anyone, he would just shy away,” Trent said. “His reaction usually, when he had fear or was frightened was to cry.”
Trent is also hoping her story inspires Missouri lawmakers to adopt what so many neighboring states already have, the Silver Alert.
“This is something that really needs to be addressed and corrected in our state,” she said.
The Silver Alert is much like an Amber Alert, except it is for adults 65 and older or adults with medical conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Ken Fitzpatrick is a member of Missouri’s Silver Haired Legislature, a group that focuses on senior issues in the state.
“We’ve been attempting to get this Silver Alert for several years now,” said Fitzpatrick.
He said Missouri lawmakers have not approved it like their counterparts in Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Fitzpatrick said a Silver Alert can save a life when seconds matter.
Missing seniors need Silver Alert legislation at both the state and national level. Federal legislation co-sponsored by Missouri United States Senator Claire McCaskill would establish a National Silver Alert Coordinator at the Department of Justice to help states create and manage Silver Alert programs.