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Silver Alert law praised for bringing more than 40 missing people home safe

A spokesperson with The TBI said since June 2021, 51 of the 55 Silver Alerts issued resulted in the individuals being safely located.
A spokesperson with The TBI said since June 2021, 51 of the 55 Silver Alerts issued resulted in...
A spokesperson with The TBI said since June 2021, 51 of the 55 Silver Alerts issued resulted in the individuals being safely located.(WVLT)
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 4:46 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Six out of 10 people living with Dementia will wander at least once, according to Alzheimer’s Tennessee. On Friday, the group praised the Silver Alert law that was passed in July of last year.

Just this week, five Tennesseans have gone missing.

“That’s definitely heartbreaking and unheard of, and we hope that there isn’t another week where that become another statistic,” Tracey Wilson, Alzheimer’s Tennessee’s regional director, said.

Within days, those missing were all returned home. Many would say it’s thanks to the new Silver Alert law.

“This is the way government is supposed to work. We don’t get it right all of the time, but we got it right this time,” Representative Jeremy Faison (R) - Cocke County, said.

Representative Faison introduced the bill last year when advocates were pushing to have a statewide protocol for missing people who have wandered due to dementia, physical impairment or disability. The procedure is similar to an amber alert.

“There is always somebody that has to be working to be able to answer the phone and get the word out. So, when you pay taxes in Tennessee, you are literally paying for someone to be on alert and listening to our local health providers, local law enforcement all the way to the TBI to be able to propagate that message out and get it out across the state of Tennessee,” Faison said.

Since the bill passed, Alzheimer’s Tennessee told WVLT News more than 40 missing people have been safely found. A spokesperson with The TBI said since June 2021, 51 of the 55 Silver Alerts issued resulted in the individuals being safely located.

For that, the community held a special reignition ceremony at Smoky Mountain Home Health & Hospice in honor of Faison and other grassroots groups who helped make a difference. They believe the sense of urgency is generating better outcomes.

There have been some challenges along the way, so Alzheimer’s Tennessee will soon start offering what they call Silver Alert kits.

“Before an incident of wandering even happens, because when that happens, we’re in a crisis mode and we’re not able to think extremely clearly or really have the desire needed to pull all of those documents needed,” Wilson said.

There are ways you can reduce the risk of wandering. Alzheimer’s Association suggests involve loved one in activities, avoid visiting busy places and be sure their basic needs are met.

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