ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – With two Big Country residents being found dead after Silver Alerts were issued in two months, many are wondering about the criteria that must be met for an alert to be issued.
The bad news is that getting a Silver Alert issued might be more difficult than you think.
In March, 89-year-old James West of Clyde went missing and then in May there a similar situation in Cisco involving 79-year-old Samuel Ray Woody.
Abilene Police Department’s Erin Bernett says the biggest criterion is the missing person must have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis from a doctor.
“It has to be that exact type of dementia,” said Bernett.
Bernett says the missing person also has to be 65 or older and driving a car.
“Sometimes we get calls where they’re driving erratically, either straddling the middle line or driving very slowly, or maybe just swerving all over the place,” said Bernett.
Bernett says the most important things families must have in that criteria box is a legitimate diagnosis.
So what are some the warning signs for Alzheimer’s? Mindy Bannister with the Alzheimer’s Association says it can be a wide range of things.
“It could mean not being able to participate in a board game that you once loved, getting lost managing your finances or balancing a check book,” said Bannister.
Bannister says the signs walk a fine line between just getting old and having the disease.
She says regardless, if families even have the slightest inclination that Alzheimer’s might be setting in, to take their loved one to a doctor.
“The diagnosis process can be long and it involves ruling out everything else,” said Bannister.
Bannister says about 60% of Alzheimer’s patients are likely to wander, and it’s better to have a plan than be in a situation where you’re unprepared.
Bernett suggests taking keys away and talking with the patient about staying home.
For more tips and resources you can visit the Alzheimer’s Association website by clicking here.