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Silver Alert Program Rescues Elderly Residents from Injury in Fort St. Lucie and Elsewhere in Florida

Back in June, Governor Rick Scott signed a new law into office aimed at strengthening Florida’s “Silver Alert” program, which helps find missing elderly throughout the state. Scott signed the bill, SB 644, at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in West Palm Beach, according to NBC Miami. The law says that police, news media representatives and others have the responsibility of complying with requests to release Silver Alert information promptly, accurately and in good faith.

Each year, hundreds of seniors and others with Alzheimer’s or dementia will wander away, on foot or driving. If they’re not found within 24 hours, at least half of these elderly residents will suffer death or injury in Miami or elsewhere, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As baby boomers age, that toll is expected to multiply.

While the law says that only a the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over a case can request activation of a Silver Alert, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys ask that everyone cooperate with the alert and keep an eye out for the missing person. Information pertaining to these alerts is publicized on electronic flashing road signs.

Our state’s Silver Alert Program has been in place for three years now. Since the initial launch of the program, more than 40 senior drivers have been located through the program.

The Silver Alert program first began in Oklahoma in 2005, according to the Sun Sentinel. Florida decided to pick up the program because of its overwhelming elderly population. Our state currently houses 4.45 million people over 60, with 1.7 million of them over the age of 75, says Ashley Marshall, spokesperson for the state’s Department of Elder Affairs.

“The beauty of Silver Alert is that it’s something people can remember. If you just say ‘Silver Alert,’ people know there’s a confused elderly person out there who needs help,” Carlos Higgins of a senior advocacy group, the National Silver-Haired Congress.

There are at least 5.2 million Americans that currently suffer from dementia. Research shows that 6 out of 10 of those with the condition will wander. Only 4 percent of those who leave home alone are capable of finding their way back without help. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients will, at least once in their lifetime, wander and become lost.

“This tragedy unfortunately highlights the very real problem of older residents, many of whom suffer from diseases which leave them easily confused and disoriented, wandering away from their homes or care-giving facilities and meeting harm because family, friends and authorities could not find them in time,” said U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.).

For there to be a Silver Alert issued in the state of Florida, the missing person must be 60-years-old or older and there must be “a clear indication” that the person has suffered some deterioration of “intellectual facilities.”

Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping those who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

Additional Resources:

Alerts, new technology helps wandering senior drivers, by Steven Cole Smith, Sun Sentinel

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Man Struck by Three Cars in West Palm Pedestrian Accident
, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, July 15, 2011

Aggressive driving frequent cause of Fort Lauderdale car crashes during tourism season, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, February 22, 2011

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