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Silver Alert in California Would Help Seniors with Dementia

If you have a family member suffering with a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you probably worry about them wandering away. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 60% of dementia patients will wander at some point in their life. A new law is being proposed in California to institute an alert, similar to the Amber Alert, when seniors with dementia go missing.

The program is called a Silver Alert, modeled after the Amber Alert system to locate missing children. Last year the U.S. House of Representqtives passed the National Silver Alert Act to establish a formal public notification when a senior citizen is missing, however the Senate failed to approve a similar measure.

In spite of the lack of federal legislation, about a dozen states have adopted Silver Alert Acts. Florida, which has the largest population of senior citizens, adopted the plan in October 2008 and had success in finding all the seniors who went missing during the rest of 2008.

In California, a bill introduced by Senators Alquist and Correa, would amend the Emergency Services section of the Government Code to provide that law enforcement agencies that are informed of a missing person 65 years if age or older with an impaired mental condition implement public alert procedures. Visiting Angels, an organization that provides in-home care to seniors across the country, as well as other organizations that service seniors, are urging the public to contact their senators to encourage the passing of the bill. Having such a system will give families and caregivers of seniors peace of mind that if their loved one wanders away, the public will be on the lookout for them.

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