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Police Locate Missing Elderly, Advise Caregivers to Have Documentation on Hand to Expedite Alerts

A missing 78-year-old San Angelo man suffering from dementia was located early this morning by Officer Z. Villarreal, who spotted the man’s vehicle traveling in the 100 block of South Abe Street.  The man, who was disoriented, was unharmed and reunited with family.  He had been missing for more than 12 hours.

Due to the circumstances surrounding the man’s disappearance, San Angelo Police Department Detective Jeremy Cannady applied for a Silver Alert through the Texas Department of Public Safety, which requires that specific criteria be met before an alert can be authorized. 

Texas Department of Public Safety Silver Alert Activation Criteria:

  1. The missing person must be 65 years of age or older.
  2. The senior citizen must be diagnosed with an impaired mental condition, and the senior citizen’s disappearance poses a credible threat to their health and safety. (Required documentation, such as a letter from the senior’s medical or mental health provider).
  3. Confirmation that an investigation has taken place verifying the senior’s disappearance is due to his/her impaired mental condition and alternative reasons for their disappearance have been ruled out.
  4. The request for the Silver Alert is being made within 72 hours of their disappearance.
  5. Local law enforcement has sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the senior citizen.

Although this story had a happy ending, the San Angelo Police Department advises families and caregivers of seniors who are diagnosed with any impaired mental conditions to have the following items on hand so law enforcement can expedite the Silver Alert application process.

  • Keep a recent, close-up photo of the senior and his/her medication specifically prescribed to treat the impairment.
  • Updated medical information, such as a diagnosis from the senior’s medical or mental health provider on the provider’s official letterhead.

The stress experienced by families and caregivers when a person with dementia wanders and becomes lost is significant.  Have a plan in place beforehand, so you know what to do in case of an emergency.  For tips on making a plan, visit http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-wandering.asp