New Technology Aids Silver Alert Program in Locating Lost Senior Drivers in Florida
New technologies are now available to aid Florida’s Silver Alert program to help track seniors who may have wandered away from home. At least 44 senior drivers have been located through the program, which helps track seniors confused or suffering from dementia who decide to get behind the wheel. The program was first used in Oklahoma in 2005 but came to Florida to help track the large number of seniors here.
At last count in Florida, there are about 4.45 million people over the age of 60, and 1.7 million over the age of 75, according to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. The primary way of alerting the public to a missing senior citizen is through overhead signs on highways and toll roads, but some counties don’t have that technology.
The new technologies include an OnStar that can be added to non-General Motors vehicle to help locate a wandering senior driver. The Alzheimer’s Association is marketing devices that can be installed in a car permanently and after subscribing to a monthly fee, can track a car in two minutes. Another version of the tracker is portable and can be put in a car or carried by the senior person.
Silver Alert was signed into law in Florida in October, 2008 and began in Pinellas County. The law was renewed last month by Gov. Rick Scott. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients will become lost and wander away at least once. Some decide to wander behind the wheel of a car, such as a man from Lake County who was found 375 miles away from his home.