Silver Alert Gaining Speed: October, 1, 20111

Roadway message boards are popping up on interstates across the state; 15 and counting in Lee County alone. The boards are instrumental to the Silver Alert campaign.

“The Silver Alert is a plan between the Department of Elder Affairs and law enforcement so that we can recoup and recover those people who are lost in their cars who might have Alzheimer’s,” says Sue Maxwell, Director of Older Adult Services with Lee Memorial Health System.

Seven Silver Alerts were issued in Lee County, the latest on September 21st. In each case, the missing person was located and returned home. Sue finds it very common for people with memory disorders to get behind the wheel.

“It happens a lot, there are many people who actually get in the car, get lost and not know how to get back home, yes, and it’s very, it’s very ordinary to have that kind of situation.”

One Florida man drove almost a thousand miles before being found. The Silver Alert boards publicize a car’s make, model, color and tag number. But the program itself depends on awareness to make an impact.

“When our patients come to the memory disorder clinic we let them know about the Silver Alert so if driving is an issue we say if someone does take the car and they don’t come home and they get lost here’s what you can do,” says Sue.

It’s as easy as calling law enforcement, which collects the information, then issues the notice to post the alert. There 560 message boards in the sate, and tens of thousands of eyes watching them.