Local News

Silver Alert Helps Find Missing Adults Quicker

Posted November 12, 2007
Updated November 13, 2007

— The new statewide Silver Alert system was designed to help authorities track down adults with memory problems who wander off. Like Mildred Rogers, 76, who went missing in August. She suffered from Alzheimer's disease and by the time searchers found her, it was too late.

"Despite all the promises that she would not walk except on paved surfaces and sidewalks, she wandered down a dirt trail over near Yonkers Road," said H.B. Rogers, Mildred's husband.

Police found Rogers' body about 20 yards from a trail in Crabtree Creek.

Rogers' story and others like it captured the attention of lawmakers at the General Assembly, who passed a bill creating the Silver Alert system. It works similar to the Amber Alert with children, but it is for adults with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

"This is the best calling that we can use our legislative abilities to get these laws on the books,” Rep. Marylyn Avila said.

Back when Rogers disappeared, law enforcement officers would typically wait 24 hours before spreading the word about a missing adult. The Silver Alert eliminates the wait period.

"We've been waiting for a long time for people to really understand that wandering is a big issue with people with dementia,” said Alice Watkins, executive director of the Regional Alzheimer's Association. She said one in every three families has someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"I wish it would have been in effect when my wife disappeared. I don't know if it would have done any good, but I would like to think so," Rogers said.

The Silver Alert also allows caregivers and nursing homes to report a person missing. In the past, only a family member could report an adult missing.


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  • Slip Kid Nov 13, 2007

    "This is a good law, that simply replaces what should have been common sense."

    If we need laws to replace common sense, we all in deeeeeep doo-doo.

  • der_Marv_meister Nov 13, 2007

    PS, if GPS tracking was an option, why not use private funds? I do not want my taxes to pay for someone elses burden!

  • der_Marv_meister Nov 13, 2007

    Isn't it interesting how some volunteer that others wouldn't mind having a GPS implated? What if we actually asked those people first if they'd mind. Hopefully ask them while they are still in their right mind. I wonder how many would NOT like to have a chip implanted.

    I think it would be too slippery a slope for putting GPS chips in people. It is my understanding that they are already doing that with some of our soldiers overseas and it is not really well received despite the possible benefits.

  • heat Nov 13, 2007

    Where are the parents???

  • ratnix Nov 13, 2007

    "I think it is a great idea and would be willing to pay to maintain or track or whatever."

    Putting a GPS 'chip' in someone would be, at best, the equivalent of tattoo'ing "You are here" on their hand, since it's a receive-only system.

    Perhaps you'd like to embed a full satellite transmitter in them so someone else could find them. No potential health risks from all that RF energy, nosiree.

  • msudawg Nov 13, 2007

    My mother has early onset Alzheimers and is still in the beginning stages. Alot of memory loss but can still take care of herself for now. She has joked about having a GPS chip placed in her and I think it is a great idea and would be willing to pay to maintain or track or whatever. The Silver Alert system is a great idea, people with dementia or Alzheimers don't even know they are in trouble when they wander off and many don't realize they are lost.

  • der_Marv_meister Nov 13, 2007

    GPS chips in old folks and in the young ones may seem like a good idea up front but there are a lot of ethical questions to go with it.
    For chips in kids, at what time should these chips be taken out?
    For old people, what would be the qualifying events that would suggest they need a chip?
    Alzheimers may be one, but is that at onset?

    With all of the questions that may pop up, who then would actually answer those questions? The government? Private entitites much like the private companies who do the red light busters in Cary?

  • tmedlin Nov 13, 2007

    I think it's a GREAT idea. and the GPS idea is a good one, too. Save us all lots of tax dollars if our alzheimers-afflicted citizens had some sort of bracelet or necklace. OF course, the ACLU would probably raise you know what - about privacy...

  • Run_Forrest_Run Nov 13, 2007

    Why don't they just put a GPS chip just under the skin and when someone's missing - just track em.

    Yeah - I know; sounds like Big Brother...but with older folks who have mental issues - why not?

  • headlong Nov 13, 2007

    I still think they should have some sort of tracking device available for them...would make it easier and faster to find them. I feel sorry for anyone that suffers from such an illness. I imagine them being like a scared child. Geez they make watches for children to wear and press in case of emergency. I know the person in this state would not press a button if lost...but shoot we can track down a missing car why not a person???