18,000 Texans with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s are vulnerable under the current Silver-Alert Law
We can all be proud that Texas was one of the first states in the U.S. to adopt the Silver Alert system in 2007.
A Silver Alert is a public notification system used to broadcast information about missing persons -specifically older adults with dementia or other cognitive impairments who may wander – in order to aid in their quick recovery. Silver Alerts use a variety of media outlets such as radio stations and television stations as well as state and local government emergency notification systems, to broadcast information about missing older adults and notify nearby residents of the neighborhood surrounding the missing person’s last known location.
However, currently in Texas, a Silver Alert can be issued ONLY if the missing individual is 65 years and older and has a documented mental condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
3 out of 5 people with Alzheimer’s will wander, and half who are not found within 24 hours, suffer serious injury or death. Although the Silver Alert notification system has played an essential role in successfully locating these individuals, the program is not available to help individuals and families of those under the age of 65 who are living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
While it is estimated that only 18,000 Texans are living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s, this small portion of the state’s population is among the most vulnerable in our communities. Younger-onset Alzheimer’s is a form of the disease that is often more aggressive and progresses faster than Alzheimer’s disease in older individuals. For this reason, the Alzheimer’s Association has worked with Representative Pickett and Senator Buckingham to file bills in both the House (H.B. 2639) and Senate (S.B. 1192) to amend the Silver Alert system so as to include all individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, regardless of their age. Adoption of either one of the bills (which are identical) would provide families of those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s with the opportunity to utilize this important public safety tool–the Silver Alert notification system–should their loved one wander.
“Two weeks ago, I testified on the bill in front of a House committee, and yesterday in front of a Senate committee. HB 2639 and SB 1192 were voted on favorably out of the committees and will now make their way to the calendar committee for an opportunity to be read in front of the general House and Senate for a vote.” Melissa Miranda, Texas State Affairs Lead for the Alzheimer’s Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter.
It is important that the community is aware of the high likelihood that a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (regardless of their age) will wander, and that they know that the Silver Alert system and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program are two resources that can help in their safe recovery.
If you feel strongly that Texans with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s should be included in the Silver Alert System – please contact your representatives in Austin and let them know – find your Texas State Representative’s contact information now >> http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/find-your-representative/