The fear of a loved one wandering or becoming lost is a frightening thought for anyone who cares for a person with Alzheimer's disease, dementia or other memory impairments. Wandering is one of the most common behaviors in persons with Alzheimer's or a related dementia.
Twenty-seven states have Silver Alert or similar programs targeting missing seniors. Modeled after the highly successful AMBER Alert program run by the Massachusetts State Police, Silver Alert will ensure that the critical communications infrastructure is utilized to coordinate and focus search efforts of numerous state and local agencies, as well as civilian organizations, when responding to an incident involving an adult with serious memory impairment.
Silver Alert, a priority of the Alzheimer's Association, MA/NH Chapter, was signed into law in 2010 in Massachusetts, mandating that adults with dementia be treated as a missing person regardless of how long they have been missing.
Such missing persons are now required to be treated as high-risk and responded to by the police department of the community where they were last seen. The State Police as well as the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) are also integral to Silver Alert. The State Police offers technical support, training and additional personnel to aid in a search and the EOEA works to ensure oversight of the Silver Alert program for the Commonwealth. In Addition, Public Policy, Patient Services and Program staff from the Alzheimer's Association work with EOEA, State and local police as part of the Silver Alert program, assisting with training and updates on Alzheimer's disease, technology and wandering prevention.
As with any potential crisis, education and planning are key to prevention. Rather than risking the well-being of a loved one, there are tools and resources are available to you. Talk to a counselor on our Helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1.800.272.3900. Measures can be taken both before and during an event in which someone wanders. You can also contact the Alzheimer's Association, MA/NH Chapter and your local law enforcement for information and events related to wandering and Silver Alert.
Learn more about the Silver Alert program in this video: