Florida’s natural beauty, warm climate, and affordable cost of living, makes it a natural retirement destination for seniors across the country. With such a strong population of older adults, Florida’s Silver Alert program was enacted as one of the ways the state can help to keep seniors throughout the state safe. Signed into existence in 2008 by executive order and voted into law in 2011, the Silver Alert Program provides a way for family members to find mentally impaired adults, such as those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, who may have gotten lost while in a car or on foot.
As a leading provider of Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Naples, we wanted to share information about this valuable program. By spreading awareness, seniors living with cognitive conditions and their families can take advantage of this resource, and residents of the local Naples community can become involved to help bolster search efforts for when seniors are reported missing.
The program was inspired by the death of 86-year-old Mary Zelter, who drove away from her nursing home and whose body was found a week later in the Intercostal Waterway. To help ensure the safety of others like Mary, the program works by giving law enforcement officers a standard protocol to follow when adults with cognitive conditions go missing, helping to organize and streamline the search.
To qualify for a Silver Alert, the adult in question needs to have gotten lost on foot or in a car and have a degenerative mental disease. Though one criterion is also to be above the age of 60, younger adults can also qualify if they have “irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties.” When a qualifying individual goes missing, police will issue a BOLO (be on the lookout) notification to other law enforcement agencies, and notifying the media. Dynamic highway messages are also used to alert the community to the situation.
Though the program is only a few years old, it has already been used hundreds of times and has succeeded in finding individuals who otherwise may not have been located. It has been used at a higher frequency in Florida than Amber Alerts, and in the first year succeeded in finding at least one elderly person in a completely different state.
While the program also offers a hotline for general information to callers about Silver Alert as well as contact information enabling the caller to access further information and resources, it does not provide support. However, it is important to note that if you have an aging parent or loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s, dementia or another cognitive disorder, assistance and support is available. Home Care Assistance provides in-home care for Naples seniors and has a team of dedicated and professional caregivers who specialize in memory care.
To learn more about Naples Alzheimer’s care or dementia care plans, call 239-449-4701 and speak with a friendly and knowledgeable Care Manager from Home Care Assistance today.