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According to the American Silver Alert Coalition, a Silver Alert is a public notification system that broadcasts information about missing persons, especially seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or other mental disabilities, in order to aid in their safe return.

Silver Alerts use a wide array of media outlets, such as commercial radio stations, television stations and cable TV to broadcast information about missing persons.  Silver Alerts also use variable-message signs along highways to alert motorists to be on the lookout for missing seniors.  Interestingly, some states have partnered with their respective state lottery commissions which allows for these alerts to be posted at all lottery locations throughout that particular state.

Activation criteria for Silver Alerts vary from state to state.  Some states limit Silver Alerts to persons over the age of 65, who have been medically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or a similar mental disability.  Other states expand Silver Alerts to include all adults with mental or developmental disabilities.  Some states use the Silver Alert system to help locate missing children as well as missing older adults.  For example, a recent headline from Fox-61 News in Hartford, CT read:

Connecticut State Police have resolved the Silver Alert involving the two missing children.

In general, the decision to issue a Silver Alert is made by the law enforcement agency investigating the report of a missing person. Public information in a Silver Alert may consist of the name and description of the missing person and a description of the missing person’s vehicle and license plate number.

In cases in which a person is believed to be missing on foot, reverse 911 systems can be used to notify nearby residents in the neighborhood surrounding the missing person’s last known location.

Currently, 44 states have “Missing Persons Recovery Programs”, but not all of these states use the actual “Silver Alert” program.  Some states use a system similar in concept, but unique with their own intricacies.  For example, Alabama uses the Missing Senior Alert while Georgia uses the Mattie’s Call system.  Minnesotans have the Brandon’s Law program, while Virginia uses the Senior Alert system and Kentucky uses a program called the Golden Alert system.

Many states have reported nominal costs associated with operating their respective systems, since most are able to utilize existing Amber Alert infrastructure to issue Silver Alerts.

To learn more about the Silver Alert system, (success stories, proposed legislation, etc.) visit the American Silver Alert Coalition website at

Click here to learn how to receive emergency alerts on your Apple device.

Click here to learn how to receive emergency alerts on your Android device.

Authored by Matt Gurwell, founder of Keeping Us Safe, LLC. Matts team works with older drivers to help them determine whether they are still safe drivers. Visit the Keeping Us Safe website at to learn more about their Enhanced Self-Assessment Program, designed specifically for senior drivers, or to schedule a presentation for your group, business, or organization.

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