1) What is the Silver Alert?
It is a public notification system to inform the public of a missing senior citizens with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other mental disabilities.
2) Why is the Silver Alert Important?
There are over half a million Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia – and about 25,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. By 2031, this number will nearly double Many more Canadian families will be dealing with dementia.
6/10 wander. When they go missing, they are typically found by a member of the public. The chance of survival decreases after 24 hours, hence missing seniors must be found quickly.
3) How will Silver Alerts be issued?
Traditional Silver Alerts in the states have been issued by television, radio, highway billboard, etc. We are proposing a localized approach such as SMS.
4) What about Alert Fatigue?
Critics of the program have concerns that too many alerts would be issued with the public ignoring alerts as a result. However, Lost Person Behaviour Research tells us that missing seniors are typically found within a few km radius from their last point seen.
Hence, it would be inefficient to notify the whole province of a missing seniors with dementia unless there is evidence that they were traveling in a vehicle. By localizing and geo-targeting alerts, very few alerts would be issued each year alleviating concerns of Alert Fatigue.
For the past few years, the BC Silver Alert Team has tracked an average of 30 alerts per year for missing seniors. Note: Currently, the BC Silver Alert Team issues an alert when the RCMP publish a press release asking the public for assistance. The criteria may change with an official Silver Alert Program.
5) Will the Silver Alert wake me up in the middle of the night?
Unlike Alert Ready, the disaster notification system, a Silver Alert will not wake you up in the middle of the night as it is not an emergency to your own safety.
6) When an alert is issued and received, what are you asking the public to do?
We are not asking anyone to play hero or play search and rescue. We are asking that the public pays attention and is aware of a missing senior in their area while commuting, and to share the news of a missing senior with their network.
7) What about GPS devices? Shouldn’t all seniors have GPS tracking devices instead?
Dementia is a complex problem. There is not one size fits all solution to this growing problem. We recommend preventative strategies as well. GPS tracking devices can be useful. However, GPS tracking devices can sometimes fail and be taken off. GPS should not replace the Silver Alert either. The Silver Alert is a safety net when all else fails.
8) Who will the Silver Alert be issued for?
Major stakeholders of this program will have to determine when a Silver Alert should be issued. Some missing seniors make it home on their own before the police ask for the public’s assistance. The Silver Alert will be issued for those seniors who meet the criteria for when an alert should be issued. There are many important decisions to be made before an official Silver Program is launched in BC.
9) What is the ‘BC Silver Alert’?
The ‘BC Silver Alert’ is a social media tool which informs the public of a missing seniors with dementia. It is an opt-in program via email and SMS funded solely by donations. We would like government support to build a more robust system to utilize better technology to reach more people and save more lives.
It was founded by myself and Michael Coyle who was the Search and Rescue manager for my dad’s case and many other cases.
Michael Coyle developed this online system on his own personal time as he saw far too many cases of missing seniors with dementia.
Aman Grewal, VP of the BC Nurses’ Union, joined our team last Winter. Aman has helped us form the BC Silver Alert Society earlier this year. She is also advocating for the Silver Alert on her own personal time.
10) How can I help?
Subscribe to alerts either on https://bcsilveralert.ca/ and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BCSilverAlert/
Write to your local MLA to show support. Our government has promised the Silver Alert. Let’s hold them accountable and see this to fruition.
Thank you for your support for this important initiative. I thank Michael Coyle for the endless amount of time he has spent creating and managing the BC Silver Alert. I thank Aman Grewal for her expertise which has helped us advocate for the Silver Alert and move this initiative forward.
I thank the media for continuing to highlight this important initiative.
Also, special thanks to my Mom for staying strong and providing hope and strength for our family. We hope that the Silver Alert program will save future families the anguish and devastation of what our family had to experience over the tragic disappearance of my father who is still missing to this day…