The Mount Sinai Wien Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders is taking a lead role in Florida’s Silver Alert program, a plan to help law enforcement officers rescue persons with Alzheimer’s disease, or a related disorder, who are driving a car and become lost. Mount Sinai helps disseminate information for the Department of Elder Affairs and coordinates with the police department to ensure the victims’ and their families receive the follow up care they need.

The Silver Alert program informs the public of the missing person through dynamic message signs on the highway. These lighted message signs display the words “Silver Alert” along with the make, color and license tag number of the car being driven by the missing person. It is a coordinated effort to quickly broadcast important information to citizens so that they can assist in the rescue of an endangered person. For a Silver Alert to be issued, the senior citizen must be over 60 years old, have a clear indication of dementia and be driving.

According to Dr. Ranjan Duara, Medical Director of Mount Sinai’s Wien Center, “Individuals with dementia are at the greatest risk for wandering, and they can make judgmental errors such as driving into wooded areas or water, driving the wrong way on the road, and not recognizing road signs.  Mount Sinai’s participation in the Silver Alert Program is vital to protecting a very fragile and vulnerable population in Florida, and it may help prevent a tragedy.”

Over 4 million Floridians are aged 60 or older, and more than 500,000 of them have some sort of dementia.  Mount Sinai Medical Center, along with the Florida Silver Alert Support Committee, urges residents to look after friends and family with dementia, and to stay alert for Silver Alert signs along the roadways.

If you believe a senior citizen has gone missing from their residence or they have failed to arrive at a destination within a reasonable period of time, call 911 immediately and have them initiate a Silver Alert. Be prepared to provide the local authorities with the make, model, year, and color of the car, along with the tag number and tag state. In addition, let them know if the missing senior is taking any medications and have a photograph ready. Unlike filing a missing person’s report, there is no waiting period to issue a Silver Alert.

If you think you have spotted the person mentioned in a Silver Alert, you should call 911 immediately and give the location of where you believe you saw this person.

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