Silver Alert

silver alert

A 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. Approximately 6 in 10 dementia victims will wander at least once, and if not found within 24 hours, up to half of wandering seniors with dementia suffer serious injury or death.

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 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.

Critics of Silver Alert have raised concerns that the proliferation of color-coded alerts will reduce their importance, risking that alerts would be ignored as a ‘wolf cry.’ For example, Texas has created an Amber Alert, Silver Alert and Blue Alert (issued to locate an assailant in the event a law enforcement officer is killed or injured.)

Because the implementation of Silver Alert systems vary from state to state, there are no national statistics for the retrieval rates resulting from Silver Alerts. However, among states that publicly release statistics, retrieval rates indicate a high level of success. For example, In North Carolina, 128 Silver Alerts were issued in 2008. Of these, 118 seniors were safely recovered.

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