An alert system created by the state to help track down missing elderly residents continues to show success, nearly a year after it was first activated.
The state launched the Silver Alert program last August, which has now been activated 35 times to help find missing adults over the age of 60 who have a permanent cognitive disability. Program Coordinator Kari Orn says “on the whole, it seem like it’s working. People are tuning in and aware of the alert when it’s issued.”
The alerts function in a similar way to the Amber Alert system used to track down children who may have been abducted. Family or caretakers report the disappearance within 72 hours and, if there’s a belief that the person is missing and may be in danger due to a cognitive disability such as Alzheimer’s disease, an alert is issued. Messages are sent out to media, and also appear on electronic billboards, highway traffic signs, and on state lottery terminals.
A majority of the 35 Silver Alert activations in the state have ended with the subject being safely located, although four subjects were dead by the time they were located and one still remains missing.
Orn says it’s important for families to act quickly when they notice a loved one has gone missing. “We don’t want anybody to wait on this,” she says. “Occasionally we’re hearing that their loved one has gone missing before and turned up safely, and they just wait it out…but we don’t want them to do that.”