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Illinois Residents Will Be Safer thanks to Silver Search

Tuesday September 29, 2015 - Jennifer Prell
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llinois’ new “Silver Search” program, which was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner last month, represents an important step forward in expanding government services to support our state’s older adults and those who care for them.


The law will take effect on January 1, 2016, and “will allow police agencies to post messages on electronic signs along Illinois highways and send blast email messages to the media” when an individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia wanders from home, according to an August Chicago Tribune piece. The Silver Search program is similar to the Amber Alert program for missing children, as well as Silver Alert programs already active in other states across the country.


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, sixty percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia wander. As our state’s population continues to age and conditions like these become even more prevalent, wandering is likely to become an even bigger problem. Now more than ever, we need programs like Silver Search that can help individuals who wander return to safety.


The Silver Search program will also help improve peace of mind for caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that there are 589,000 Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in the state of Illinois, providing 671 million hours of unpaid care each year. For many of these caregivers, the possibility that a loved one could wander from home and go unfound causes fear and anxiety, adding even more stress to an already stressful situation. Caregivers should be able to rest just a bit easier in 2016 knowing they now have extra support from law enforcement and the community at large should a loved one go missing despite all efforts to prevent such a situation.


We at CMSS would like to applaud Illinois lawmakers for passing the Silver Search bill and taking an important step to protect individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We sincerely hope to see more individuals returned safely to their homes and loved ones as a result.


About the Author

Bill Lowe is the President of Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services, the largest network of senior services on Chicago's north side.

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