Silver Alerts Save Elderly Lives

According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, around 90,000 people are missing at any given time in the United States. Around 34,000 of these missing people are under the age of 18. When a child goes missing, particularly when an abduction or violence is involved, the cases receive nationwide attention.

But what about the other 50,000 missing people? When an adult goes missing, the interest never seems so intense. But the disappearance of an adult can be incredibly serious. It is especially serious when they are elderly or suffering from deteriorating intellectual abilities. This is why Silver Alerts come into play, and why they are so important.

What Is The Difference Between AMBER and Silver Alerts?

Silver Alerts are similar to AMBER Alerts for missing children, with a few key differences. AMBER Alerts go out via mass text message. Silver Alerts, on the other hand, appear on electronic screens on major highways and roads. Both act to spread important information about the missing person. This information includes their identity and vehicle type. While AMBER Alerts are generally triggered only if the missing person is believed to be in danger, Silver Alerts can be issued even when there is no threat of violence or abduction.


To qualify for a Silver Alert, the missing person must meet specific criteria:

  • The missing person is driving a car or lost on foot
  • There is a clear indication that the missing person has an irreversible deterioration of intellectual faculties

Due to these qualifications, Silver Alerts generally refer to people over the age of 60 with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, any adult, between the ages of 18 and 59, who suffers from deterioration of intellectual facilities also qualifies for a Silver Alert. A wide range of conditions, from ALS to traumatic brain injuries, can cause intellectual facilities to deteriorate. This leads to difficulty with communication and memory.

When a person with deteriorating facilities goes missing, it is automatically a serious issue. They are at high risk of dying from an accident, exposure, or lack of necessary medication or treatment.

The History of Silver Alert In Florida

Florida’s Silver Alert program actually has roots in Pinellas County. In 2008, an elderly woman with dementia checked herself out of her assisted living facility in Largo, but never returned. A week later, her body was found in the Intercostal Waterway in Clearwater. She was only about 10 miles away from her assisted living facility. Her death prompted Pinellas County to take a closer look at its handling of missing elderly people. The initiative soon spread across the state. In 2008, former governor Charlie Crist signed an executive order on Silver Alerts.

In Florida, people over 60 make up about 20% of the entire population. This makes the silver alert program particularly important in our state. The Tampa Bay counties greatly contribute to the number of Silver Alerts in the state, with 12% of alerts occurring in Hillsborough and Pinellas combined.

The next time you see a Silver Alert sign on the highway, take a moment to look at it. You might be able to help save a life!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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