June 11, 2009
Legislation advances in Senate Finance Committee to set
up Silver Alert System
to locate missing seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or
(NASHVILLE, TN), June 11, 2009 — Legislation creating a “Silver Alert System” that would work like the “Amber Alert System” to help locate missing individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias has advanced in the State Senate with approval by the Senate Finance Committee. The bill, SB 532 sponsored by Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), calls for local law enforcement agencies to coordinate with non-profit organizations such as “A Child is Missing” or the “Alzheimer’s Association” to aid in their efforts to put the program in place.
“We already have much of the framework through the Amber Alert Program to put a Silver Alert Program in place,” said Senator McNally. “Like the national Amber Alert program, this bill calls on local law enforcement agencies to work in tandem with the media and transportation officials in alerting the public of a missing senior.”
The bill defines “missing senior citizen” as a person 60 years old or older whose ”whereabouts are unknown” and who has “an impaired mental condition as determined by a local law enforcement agency.” The Silver Alert would be triggered if that missing person is believed to be in danger because of environmental or weather conditions, or is thought to be unable to return to safety without assistance.
Approximately 100,000 Tennesseans and as many as 5.2 million nationwide are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The Silver Alert system is working in eight states, and has resulted in the safe return of a majority of those reported.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has reported that six in 10 of those with Alzheimer’s disease will wander away and become disoriented. Half of those who wander are found within five miles of their home. Of those not found within 24 hours, half will be seriously injured or die.
“There is a critical 24-hour time period in which to locate missing seniors,” added McNally. “The Silver Alert program is designed to quickly disseminate descriptive information about the missing person, so that citizens in the affected area can be on the lookout for the endangered person and notify local law enforcement with any relevant information.”
“This legislation brings a community to their aid in such a crisis to take advantage of the short window of time needed to bring these vulnerable citizens home to avert a tragedy,” McNally concluded.