Today’s editorial explores Silver Alert, a program designed to help find people who have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia if they go missing. (The Lower Hudson Valley, as Director of Putnam County’s Office for the Aging William Huestis describes it, a “gray belt,” with a significant and growing population over 65.)
Both Westchester and Rockland have invaluable programs that help protect seniors who suffer from cognitive impairments. Project Lifesaver in Westchester outfits Alzheimer’s patients to tend to wander with a tracking device that is strapped to their wrist. Last fall, an elderly Yonkers woman who had the bracelet for a week was reported missing. She was found, uninjured, within two hours, wandering a half-mile from her home. In Rockland, the county sheriff’s Computer Assisted Rescue Effort program, or CARE, archives school pictures and vital information for children between kindergarten and eighth grade, providing quick access to a recent picture of a child reported missing to be transmitted to all police agencies, as well local merchants, businesses, agencies and other outlets that have signed up for the alerts. CARE coordinator Deputy Sheriff Walt Famular has expanded the program to include vulnerable adults, including those with dementia, Alzheimer’s or developmental disabilities. “The power of the program is proportionate to the amount of people we can reach,” Famular told the Editorial Board explaining the expansion of CARE in 2007.