A silver alert is a missing person’s identification system similar to the Amber Alert for children.
The silver alert is designed to help locate senior citizens suffering from mental illness, dementia, Alzheimer’s or other cognitive disorders who get lost.
While the silver alert program functions nationwide, it does work a little different from state-to-state. As an example, there isn’t a single name that the program goes by…I have seen “Golden Alert”, “Missing Adult Alert”, and “Missing Senior Alert” among others…and in other states the silver alert system is part of a larger system to find all missing persons.
So I will give you some of the basics as well as highlighting some specific programs on the local level that I feel are of benefit.
First of all, let me explain to you how the program works in my area…
The silver alert program is coordinated with the local police department. A caregiver would register their parent or other loved one with the local police department giving their name, physical description, etc… The caregiver is then mailed a free medic alert bracelet (they don’t even pay for the shipping) which contains a distinctive identification number.
That I.D. number and the information attached to it is available for first responders or the general public to contact the police and reunite the wandering senior with their family.
How To Find Out More Info In Your Area
The way to do this is to contact either your local police department or your local Office of the Aging. They will be able to direct you to the right agency in your area handling the silver alert program.
Once you find the right agency, the caregiver will be sent a registration form to fill out. In my area, once the form is filled out and a picture of the person being registered is sent in you will then receive be sent the silver alert bracelet. Simply strap it on their wrist so that in the event of an issue the police can help track them down.
My Analysis of the Silver Alert System
This is a terrific idea, and I personally believe that my local police department got it right. There has been some criticism of Silver Alerts, in the sense that if there are too many alerts being sent to the public (Amber Alerts for children, Silver Alerts for seniors, Blue Alerts for those who attack or kill a law enforcement official) the public may become tone deaf to them and ignore them.
This was one of the reasons the Silver Alert was vetoed statewide in New York in 2003.
After all, a wandering senior with dementia isn’t going to get very far on their own. That’s why I say that my local police department got it right with the free medic alert bracelet. By providing that bracelet it makes identification so much easier and because the person in question will be wandering, it enables the local population to help in their recovery.