For several years Sen. Barbara Bailey, R- Oak Harbor, has worked to improve the state’s alert systems through legislation that would create a “Silver Alert” statewide notification when vulnerable adults go missing and may be in need of assistance. The Legislature approved the House measure at the end of the first special session.
“While different than the Senate bill, this is needed policy for our state,” said Bailey, who co-chairs the Joint Legislative Executive Committee on Aging and Disability. “As our state’s population ages we will increasingly face issues like wandering or elderly residents going missing. Having this alert system will increase the public’s engagement in helping find them when minutes matter.”
Washington joins 41 other states and local jurisdictions that have implemented similar alert systems for missing adults. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, adults with impairments like dementia or Alzheimer’s are at increased risk of wandering or becoming lost and disoriented. According to their figures, six out of ten afflicted with this disease will wander at some point.
“Having this alert system in place will be a valuable tool in finding missing adults,” said Bailey. “A recent tragedy in our community was a reminder that this could happen to anyone of our family members. The hope is that the alert system will get the word out quickly and connect the dots for the public about a missing vulnerable adult.”
Last year an elderly Everett woman went missing after becoming disoriented, even stopping to ask for help. Unfortunately, she was found deceased weeks later. Bailey added, “It is cases like these that demonstrate the need for a Silver Alert system. Saving just one life is worth it.”
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.