Scales of Justice

Silver Alerts: Loved Ones Missing from Nursing Homes

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A Silver Alert is issued by law enforcement when an at-risk elderly person is missing. Silver Alerts are often made for nursing home and assisted-living center residents who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or another mental disability and wander away from care.

What if a Loved One Wanders from Care?

If you learn that an at-risk loved one has strayed from his or her nursing home or assisted-care facility, call 911 or contact local law enforcement immediately. Law enforcement agencies such as local police and sheriff’s departments can issue a Silver Alert, which will then be broadcast through widespread channels, including other law enforcement agencies and various media outlets.

Then call the knowledgeable Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorneys at Carr & Carr at 866-510-0580; our lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of nursing home residents and their families, and we have assisted a number of families in the safe recovery of loved ones. Nursing homes and other care centers must monitor residents with medically diagnosed conditions such as Alzheimer’s to ensure they don’t wander without a caregiver, and facilities that are negligent in protecting at-risk residents may be held accountable.

Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Wandering

Wandering is common among those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander. If not found within 24 hours, more than half of those individuals will die or sustain serious injury.

Wandering is an indicator of declining cognitive abilities. There are a number of reasons those with Alzheimer’s or dementia may wander, including:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Curiosity
  • Searching for something or someone
  • Following a past routine
  • Desire for movement

As the Mayo Clinic notes, wandering is not necessarily harmful when it occurs in a controlled and safe environment. But those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, or another mental disability or medical condition, face greater health and safety risks the longer they are away from caregivers.

Silver Alerts for At-Risk Elderly

Most states have a Silver Alert program, although not all are called Silver Alerts and the qualifications for activating the alerts vary.

In most states, including Oklahoma and Arkansas, a Silver Alert may be issued to bring attention to a missing senior citizen who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or a mental impairment. News of a Silver Alert is typically broadcast on radio, television and the Internet; roadway message signs and reverse 911 calls may also be used in Silver Alerts.

Protecting Elderly Prone to Wandering

Dangerous, unsupervised wandering is preventable. Although nursing home residents for whom wandering is a risk should receive proper observation from caregivers, there are additional safety measures that can be taken.

The Alzheimer’s Association, Project Lifesaver and other organizations offer bracelets that include medical information and contact details. Bracelets and other products, including shoes, with GPS technology or radio trackers are also available. If possible, place some form of identification in commonly worn clothing such as jackets or sweaters.

Those who wander may not respond to searchers or others who attempt to help them, they might not call for help themselves, and they may not be able to remember their names. While these products may not deter a person from wandering, they can help reduce the risk of harm and contribute to his or her safe return.

If a loved one has wandered away from the care of a nursing home, or suffered from another form of nursing home negligence, the Oklahoma attorneys at Carr & Carr are ready to help you take action. Please contact us online or call 866-510-0580 to talk with one of our experienced lawyers. We have offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but we work with clients statewide.


Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Association Statement on Silver Alert; http://www.alz.org/news_and_events_14004.asp

Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center: Wandering and Getting Lost; http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-wandering.asp

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America; Education and Care: Coping with Wandering; http://www.alzfdn.org/EducationandCare/wandering.html

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America; Education and Care: Silver Alert Programs; http://www.alzfdn.org/EducationandCare/silver_alert.html

Arkansas State Police; Arkansas State Police Notification System/Silver Alert; http://asp.arkansas.gov/services-and-programs/detail/silver-alert

Mayo Clinic; Alzheimer’s: Understand Wandering and How to Address It; http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20046222?pg=1

National Public Radio; The Mysteries of Dementia-Driven Wandering; http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106598816

State of Oklahoma; Amber and Silver Alerts Administration; https://www.ok.gov/okamber/alerts/app/admin/index.php

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