Understanding a Silver Alert

Understanding a Silver Alert. It is very difficult to keep in touch with every person in a highly populated country like the United States.

Keeping track of every individual is even more difficult and requires the effort of all people in the community to help.

Communication technology is crucial here, and the AMBER Alert system was one of the results in using public communication to help find the whereabouts of children. The success of the AMBER alert led to other alert systems like the Silver Alert.

Silver Alert

Defining this type of Alert

This type of alert is somewhat the opposite of an AMBER alert as it covers seniors. It revolves around a program called the "National Silver Alert Program" where the objective is to save unattended seniors that suffer from cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease.


The concept of the alert was brought up in December 2005 where Fred Perry - an Oklahoma Representative wanted to produce something that works like the AMBER Alert to save seniors. The Oklahoma House of Representatives acknowledged the following year and passed a resolution (H.R. 1075) which will make full use of the system to help find missing seniors.

It wasn't permanently established until recently in April 2009 when Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed a legislation. Several other states have adopted this system with current statistics showing more than half of the United States already implementing the program. Florida saw the importance and potential of the alert early 2008 when a tragedy occurred involving a 86 year old women escaping her assisted living facility to drive away only to meet an unfortunate accident.

On the program's website - http://nationalsilveralert.org, it is implied that around half of the elders in the US that wander away from supervision suffer from serious injury or even death if they are not located within a 24 hour period.

How the Alert Activates

The system works similarly to AMBER alerts making use of modern media channels including cable TV networks and stations, radio stations, and text messaging. Reverse 911 systems have also been used to spread awareness of missing seniors within the neighborhood including information of their last known whereabouts.

The program website offers even more options where senior citizens with disorders can register and input their entire vital medical and health records, personal data, caregiver info, and picture. The information will be securely kept and will only be used by emergency responders whenever their toll-free emergency number is dialed and a proper report is made.

It also helps spread the awareness of the alert by offering ID card packages, bracelets, and pendants. The ID card package includes 2 ID cards that can fit in any standard-sized wallet and a larger ID card that is to be placed on a window or on the front door. These cards work together where the ID card containing the emergency information is displayed on a refrigerator while the bigger ID card displayed outside indicates that the ID card is found on the fridge. An Emergency Responder fridge magnet is included in the package for better visibility.

The ID bracelets and pendants make it easy for people that are not at home to contact the emergency responders from any local place with a phone as the toll-free number is engraved there along with the emergency phone number and a special serial number that is linked to the registered senior citizen in the database. This information will be used by the responders to contact the call center and obtain all the necessary data for regarding the lost individual.

Alert Coverage

The exact triggers of a Silver Alert vary from different states. Some of the states yield Silver Alerts only if the lost individual is aged 65 or greater and is known to have mental disabilities. The strict criteria are made to reduce the instances of false alarms due to misinterpretations.

Public Reception

Some critics of this system along with other alert systems is that the increasing dependency of such alerts may degrade their overall importance due to increased possibilities of false alerts or the possibility of people not taking the alerts too seriously because of oversaturation. However, the current instances of identity theft, elder abuse, and high elder population indicate that the Silver Alert program will greatly help and save lives.

It is up to the community to collaborate well with the emergency responders to ensure elders remain safe at all costs.

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