One of the most frightening times for families is when a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer's or dementia related conditions goes missing. Frantic sets in along with a sense of helplessness! After calling law enforcement and local governing bodies, some people sit around and hope for the best. A few take action by driving the city streets in search for clues. Others put a comprehensive search team in place. These fearful moments can be some of the most stressful times for families.
One of the most passionate members of the Alabama legislature, Representative Laura Hall, introduced HB427, the Missing Senior Citizen Alert Act. This legislation will help provide relief for families and update the Alabama system that locates seniors who are missing or lost and maybe in danger. The Missing Senior Citizen Alert Act operates similar to the highly successful Amber Alert that assists law enforcement in locating missing children.
Beginning in 2006, states across the country started implementing programs that broadcast alerts when our elders go missing. The strategy was designed to provide statewide education and training to law enforcement personnel, members of the community, dementia care specialists, caregivers and persons with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders. Most Silver Alert program procedures vary from state to state, but the goal is to improve public safety by giving state agencies, law enforcement and service providers the tools to communicate more effectively.
According to Altoday.com, Alabama issues alerts for senior citizens under certain circumstances, but HB427 includes adults with Alzheimer's and other cognitive disorders regardless of age. Additionally, it requires specialized training for law enforcement personnel who participate in searching for missing persons with Alzheimer's. Representative Hall said her legislation would play a substantial role in helping keep our senior citizens who are suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia safe.
If you are wondering about the effectiveness of the Silver Alert system, take a look at this heartwarming story about an 88 year old Franklin, Tennessee man who made it home safely after being confused and disoriented while trying to locate his daughter. With America's growing senior population it is crucial for Alabama to adopt this measure. According to Alzheimer's Association, 60 percent of those with dementia will wander. Statistics show that 50% of those who wander will suffer serious injury if they are not found within 24 hours. We agree with Representative Hall and the American Senior Alliance urges the Alabama legislature to approve this long overdue safety measure for our missing senior citizens.