Silver Alerts Help Find Disoriented Elderly

"I think it's hugely important in Florida, especially," Beach said. "With one of the highest senior populations in the nation, we all know people who have gotten confused, and it's nice to have another tool in our tool kit to try to find these people."

Using the most recent data available, Florida reported 360,000 cases of Alzheimer's in 2000, according to the Alzheimer's Association, a number that is expected to have grown by 25 percent by 2010.

Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania each have Silver Alert legislation pending, but have all battled criticisms that adding another electronic alert system might diminish their effectiveness.

Too Many Alerts a Bad Thing?

According to the nonprofit National Association of State Units on Aging, former New York Gov. George Pataki vetoed the state's Silver Alert system, suggesting that it would weaken the Amber Alert system and "make the alerts too common."

But Beach disagrees. "Is that criticism to suggest that we shouldn't look for these people?

"Anytime we have an alert like this, it's very important and our network is going to go out and try to find those seniors as soon as possible," he said.

Kristen Perezluha, the public information officer for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said that state officials will be reviewing the alerts they've issued in the past few months in an effort to ensure they are not misused.

"It's something that's still in the beginning stages, and it's something we're going to look at and tweak," Perezluha said.

Since the inception of the Silver Alert in Florida Oct. 8, 28 alerts have been issued and all but one person was found alive, Perezluha said.

"We definitely don't want this to be something that is just ignored," Perezluha said, responding to criticism that frequent alerts will become white noise to residents. "We want it to have value when it's issued in our state."

Tallahassee's Lallucci doesn't want to see the problem ignored anymore, either.

"We're all very aware of how many of us who are going to be coming into our elderly ages," Lallucci, 55, said. "Every state needs to have Silver Alert systems to protect elderly people of the potential harm that could occur if they wander or become disoriented.

"Who doesn't want to help Mom and Dad?"

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