State House passes Silver Alert bill to protect missing persons with Alzheimer’s

senior wandering

There are an estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in 10 people with dementia will wander at some point during the course of the disease. Wandering can be dangerous, even life threatening, as person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or address, and can become easily disoriented, even in familiar places. If not found within a 24-hour period, up to half will suffer serious injury or death. It’s an incredibly stressful situation that weighs heavily on caregivers and family

On Thursday, the State House took a step forward to help alleviate a bit of that stress and find missing seniors with the passage of HB427.

Sponsored by Huntsville-Democrat state Rep. Laura Hall, HB427 updates a statewide Silver Alert system to provide families a way to locate lost or missing seniors who may be endangered. Similar to Amber Alert system, Silver Alerts allow law enforcement  to disseminate statewide alerts for missing seniors.

Currently, Alabama issues alerts for seniors under certain circumstances — including being over 60 years of age — but Hall’s bill includes adults with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive disorders, regardless of age. It also requires specialized training for law enforcement personnel who participate in searching for missing persons with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

“This Silver Alert bill will play a significant role in the safety of those with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia,” said Hall. “As a community, we need to do what we can to establish these protocols in order to keep our loved ones with dementia safe.”

Lawmakers voted 99-0 in support of the legislation.

It now moves to the State Senate.