Elderly man walking on a road during the winter.

Today, May 3, marks one year that North Dakota signed the Silver Alert system into law.  ND’s Silver Alert system is a quick response system to help locate missing persons that include disabled and vulnerable elderly adults, as well as minors who have developmental disabilities.

The Silver Alert System works much like the Amber Alert system.  After the missing person has been reported to local law enforcement, the ND Highway Patrol activates the silver alert public notice to aid in locating the individual and return them to safety.

The Silver Alert is included in the Emergency Alert System which allows for the capability to push immediate warnings out to the public via broadcast, cable and satellite providers as well as to smartphone users through the Wireless Emergency Alert system.

Wandering is a risk linked to several conditions such as Down syndrome, Autism spectrum disorder, and dementia resulting from Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, head injuries and Parkinson’s disease.  Approximately 6 in 10 dementia victims will wander at least once.  The Alzheimer’s Association reports that if wandering seniors with dementia are not found within 24 hours, up to half will suffer serious injury or death.

There is a wide range of assistive technology tools to help limit and prevent wandering.  Back in 2014 Trish Floyd wrote a blog on some good examples of these type of devices: https://ndassistive.org/at-for-wandering-and-tracking/.  Also, having an individual carry id can be crucial and always is a good idea.  This does not prevent wandering but will give basic information about the person’s health condition and a phone number to call if the individual is found or becomes confused.  Medical id can be worn on a bracelet or neck chain, carried in a wallet or stitched onto clothing.

Wandering is a complex issue and is a concern to caregivers for those with cognitive problems.  There is no one size fits all intervention, but knowing there are safety tools and systems available and in place for those who wander or one day go missing is key.  After one year, the Silver Alert system has and will continue to save the lives for our population who is most vulnerable.

For more information on finding the right AT device for wandering and tracking, please connect with Assistive at https://ndassistive.org/ or call 800-895-4728 to schedule an appointment with an AT consultant.

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