Silver is the new amber ever since a 77 year old man disappeared into the woods and died.
William Young, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, was declared missing after taking the family’s car for a drive and never returning home. Countless search parties, dozens of worried family members and friends, and 5 days later his car was found in a bay. The next day his body was found 5 miles from the car, drifting away from the initial point of impact.
William Young’s tragic story broke down the traditional barriers of safety alert systems. Local police officials responded to the inundation of worry for elders suffering from dementia with a volunteer search and rescue effort, named “Silver Alert,” honoring Young. The Silver Alert has already been adopted in several states scattered throughout the U.S, including Florida, North Carolina, Texas. Imitating the idea of the “Amber Alert,” the “Silver Alert” hopes to get as many elderly people suffering from dementia registered with local authorities, making it much easier for them to distribute information to the public and other authorities in an emergency.
Another vital feature of this program is the use of GPS tracking devices. With new technology, GPS tracking devices can be placed in family cars or on bracelets or necklaces that can be worn by the elderly. In cases of missing children, and now, missing elderly people, reaction time is key. A second can make the difference between finding them at the side of the road and finding them at the bottom of a bay. GPS tracking devices enables people to find the fastest route available back to their loved ones.
GPS tracking devices can also be used to give elderly more freedom. Family members can set up a GPS fence around the community or any predetermined area they felt comfortable having their family member roam free in. If the elderly person left that area, family members would get a text message, and the GPS would help them track down the person.
Had this technology been in place when William Young went missing his family may have been able to save him, and police are doing everything they can to ensure that other families will get the chance that the Young’s didn’t have.