Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 NRDS ID#641625055

road signA number of years ago, I lived in a gated community on Long Island. Several doors down, there was an elderly gentleman who resided with his son, his son's wife and their children. Late in life, this gentleman developed Alzheimer's and the community couldn't help but observe this young couple's daily challenge to care for him and their struggle to keep him safe.


Several years later, he passed away. But before his death, we all saw the disease progress to a point where it was practically impossible to keep him from wandering. His loved ones did everything in their power to keep him in sight but still, several times a month, this senior managed to leave his house unnoticed. Invariably, he would end up walking out of the complex and onto the shoulder of a very heavily traveled road. The term "speed limit" was apparently foreign to some of the drivers and it was an incredibly dangerous situation for anyone let alone a confused elderly man.


I can still remember the children's fear upon learning that their dad had, once again, gone missing. Upon their discovery, they were legitimately frightened to death, and hysterically inquiring of everyone about their father's whereabouts. Luckily, there was a happy ending to each of these occurrences.

Those were the days before the Silver Alert.

A couple of years ago, piggybacking on the success of the Amber Alert, that immediately notifies media about the disappearance of a child, came the Silver Alert. At the time of this writing, more than half of the United States have implemented this program or some variation that might include those with special needs or emotional disorders.

disoriented elderly woman

As we all know, the elderly are the fastest growing demographic in America. Alzheimer's, Dementia or other cognitive disorders are likely to affect a certain percentage of them. With a diagnosis of mental impairment, wandering from home or a health care facility becomes a very real possibility. It is crucial that these seniors be found in the first 24 hours, otherwise they might suffer from serious harm or worse. They may be dressed inappropriately for the weather, be without food, drink or medications or fall prey to unscrupulous individuals.


The Silver Alert immediately puts out media bulletins, posts information on highway signs and alerts hospitals and police departments. It's an excellent program that appears to be working as many elderly have been found and caregivers and family members have found some semblance of peace of mind under the most trying of circumstances.


The so called "retirement" belt from N. Carolina and Virginia to Florida has implemented the Silver Alert.  Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island  have done so, as well. For free registry, go to and sign up those in your care who are at risk of becoming disoriented. It provides a place to store important personal information which can be easily accessed in case of an emergency.


disoriented elderly woman picture courtesy of cybernetiks2's photostream via creative commons watch for senior citizens sign courtesy of Ethan Prater's photostream via creative commons

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Jill Sackler, NYS Real Estate Broker Associate based on Long Island's South Shore

Sunny Isles, Fl 

       Specializing in Lifecycle Real Estate 

"When your family doesn't fit your family home, I can help."


©Jill Sackler 2010


Comments (15)

Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

Jill, I had not heard of this before, but what a great idea!  Thanks for sharing with us!

Mar 14, 2011 04:13 PM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Jill, it is a sad story, when people get to that stage. It gets only worse, and it is scary.

I have not see n a sign like this, but would not be surprised to see one. Hope there is an easier way to deal with finding lost seniors. It is the 21st century, I think we can do better

Mar 14, 2011 04:39 PM
Rose King
David Tracy Real Estate - Friendswood, TX
Friendswood / Pearland / Houston Bay Area

This sounds like a great program, Jill. Alzheimer's is a sad disease, and people who care for family members who suffer from it need all the help they can get. Thanks for sharing!

Mar 14, 2011 04:46 PM
Ellen Caruso
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Glen Head, NY

Jill that is good info, especially since I've mentioned my dad has Alzheimer's, although because of knee surgery he has had, he don't go out to much.

Mar 15, 2011 02:40 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

I was not familiar with the Silver Alert program. Wonderful idea. We have a neighbor with Alzheimer's and her care has been very difficult for her husband.

I will post your blog on my Facebook wall.

 Blooming for seniors that need help.

Mar 15, 2011 04:47 AM
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

Jill.  I have not heard of Silver Alert.  What a great idea someone came up with.  It is so scary for the family and the person that is wandering the streets trying to remember where they live.  My mother in law had dementia for 2 years before she passed.  She didn't recognize her kids or her husband of 63 years.  What a terrible way to live.  Luckily, she was in a nursing home where they could monitor her.  If she had gotten out, no telling where she would have ended up.

Mar 15, 2011 05:05 AM
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Jill, what a great post! I've never heard of the Silver Alert either! My first job at 16 was in a nursing home where unfortunately alzheimers was something I encountered daily. There were many times when I would be driving to work and passing a resident walking the street that led to it. Of course I'd give them a ride back, but often they were disoriented and scared and not wearing the proper clothing for the weather. It's hard to see especially when it's a family member, but this Silver Alert as well as your blog help educate. I'm happy to hear that your neighborhood looked out for that gentleman.

Mar 15, 2011 05:43 AM
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

Thank you so much for sharing this information.  I had not heard of the Silver Alert and I think it's fabulous information.

Mar 15, 2011 09:08 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Sonja - I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

Jon - It's best to remember them the way they were. After the disease progresses, it's becomes very sad and hard to watch.

Rose - I agree with you. Respite is paramount for the well-being of the family members.

Ellen - I'm so sorry about your dad. I remember how touched I was by your Valentine's Day tribute. I'm sure those memories mean everything to you.

Roy - Just getting one of your flowers brightens my day. Thanks for getting the word out.

Belinda - By the time they don't recognize their loved ones, it's pure torture for the family. Luckily she was safe for her last 2 years.

Cindy - Is there anything you can't do? I'm so impressed with you. I spent a semester volunteering in a nursing home when I was a college student, but my experience was certainly not as extensive as yours.

Joy - Thanks so much. It was new to me too and I wanted to get the word out.


Mar 15, 2011 12:21 PM
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Jill, My mother was the Director of nursing there at the time and was tired of me asking for money to do one day she got me a job there in housekeeping. As you know volunteering (kudos for that), some residents are lucid but many are just in another place. Know wonder you have such an affection for seniors. My hubby always tells me I should be working with seniors. Looks like you're following that calling.

Mar 15, 2011 05:05 PM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

So that explains it! Actually, I think it's because I've never had any grandparents. All four of them died before I was old enough to know them. On some deeper level, I may have missed that relationship.

Mar 16, 2011 01:53 PM
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Jill - I have never heard of the Silver Alert but what a wonderful service for those communities that have a population with a high percentage of elderly.

Mar 20, 2011 10:26 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

I thought so, as well, when I first heard.

Mar 20, 2011 11:49 AM
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

Jill- This is a great big thank you.  The woman in my life, sometimes known as chief cook, is also part of our Crow River Senior Center's Caring Communities Board.  This is something that she will definitely be looking to implement in our community.  I will keep you posted as to the progress. 

They had a great meeting today about transportation and housing issues which predominate but they are also looking for other ways to care for our growing senior population with nutrition, alcoholism and depresssion issues. 

Jun 01, 2011 02:33 PM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Ron, I always have to smile when you refer to the woman in your life as "chief cook." I imagine she's amused by this.  I'm always happy to pass along any information I come across that could potentially be helpful.  Whatever topic you happen to be currently addressing at the Senior Center has great value. There needs to be open dialogue for all of it. All my research suggests that in the next 20 years, there will be a great shift in demographics around the world.

Jun 02, 2011 01:47 AM

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