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Silver Alerts for Missing Seniors

November 12, 2008   |   Alliance for Aging Research Team   |   Caregiving (Health)

One frightening reality Alzheimer’s caregivers face is the potential for a loved one to wander and not be able to find their way home. A new idea has emerged–an Amber Alert system for the elderly, appropriately called Silver Alert.

Currently, 11 states have Silver Alert-type programs, and legislation has been introduced to turn state efforts into a nation-wide program.

MSNBC reported on these programs in September. In this report, John Legare, a spokesman for the Office on Aging in South Carolina, noted that,

“When a child’s by themselves, it seems odd,” but “when a senior is by themselves, they try to respect people’s privacy more than anything else.”

Even though the subtle signs of dementia might be there, passersby may not realize that a senior has Alzheimer’s and needs help. This type of program would help caregivers and police, who sometimes spend many hours, or even days searching for a lost adult.

It would also help the individuals themselves—around 50% of those who are not found within 24 hours suffer from severe injury or death. In North Carolina, who currently has an alert program, all but 4 of the 40 individuals who were missing have been found alive.

While it is important for caregivers to take steps to keep their loved one safe, it is almost impossible to prevent an independent adult from leaving the house on their own. A Silver Alert program would benefit everyone involved, from the police to the Alzheimer’s patient.

To read MSNBC’s report, click here.

This post was written by Valerie Hagan, former Health Programs Coordinator at the Alliance.

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