As the U.S. population ages, police and fire forces are being called on increasingly to search for missing adults, especially those with Alzheimer's disease or other mental impairments. In Indiana, a “Silver Alert” system that went into effect July 1 has has already been used five times, with three of the missing people found alive and two dead, reports the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. By comparison, the Amber Alert system for abducted children hasn't been used in 2009.
A dozen states have similar systems in place. Most are aimed at seniors with Alzheimer's or other dementia-related illnesses. A report on the Alzheimer's Association's Web site notes that nearly 60 percent of people with Alzheimer's disease will wander. The Indiana Silver Alert system covers other people as well. An endangered adult is considered anyone incapable of returning without assistance because of a mental illness, mental retardation, dementia or another physical or mental incapacity.