On Friday, Fox 26 Reporter Isiah Carey, welcomed Melissa Miranda, Texas State Affairs lead with the Alzheimer’s Association Houston & Southeast Texas, and Mackenzie Henry, who’s mother is diagnosed with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s to The Isiah Factor to shine a light on the current Texas State Silver-Alert System that does not support people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who are younger than 65 years of age.
6 in 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander. A person who wanders may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented and lost. A Silver Alert is a public notification system used to broadcast information about missing persons -specifically older adults with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments who may wander- in order to aid in their quick recovery. The Alzheimer’s Association was instrumental in the adoption of the Texas Silver Alert Program in 2007. Currently, when an individual who is 65 years of age or older and has been diagnosed with an impaired mental condition goes missing, local law enforcement can request activation of a Silver Alert to aid in the safe return of the missing person.
More than 350,000 Texans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and it is estimated that about 18,000 are younger than 65 year’s old, suffering from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although the Silver Alert notification system has played a critical role in locating individuals with Alzheimer’s disease who are 65 years of age or older, the program is currently unavailable to help individuals who are under the age of 65 living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. These individuals are among some of the most vulnerable in our state. Mobile and able-bodied, persons with younger- onset Alzheimer’s are at high risk of wandering while driving on our roads or by foot into high traffic areas. Their safety and that of the public is of tremendous concern, with a study finding that among those with Alzheimer’s who wander, almost half who are not found within 24 hours, suffer serious injury or death.
This 85th session of the Texas Legislature, the Alzheimer’s Association has been working with Representative Pickett, Representative Zerwas, and Senator Buckingham to modify the Silver Alert system to ensure that ALL individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, regardless of their age, have access to this important public safety tool. House Bill 2639 (Pickett) and Senate Bill 1192 (Buckingham) removes the age requirement of 65 years, for persons with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The bills provide younger-onset families with the peace of mind knowing that they too can rely on the Silver Alert system to aid in the quick recovery of their loved one with the disease.