2009-06-26 / Top Stories

Titus: Alerts Help Locate Missing Adults

Assemblywoman Michelle Titus announced that the Assembly passed legislation establishing an alert system for New York State (A.5220-A) that will employ federal, state and local resources to assist families of vulnerable adults in locating their missing loved ones, similar to the Amber Alert.

"Many of our loved ones are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, dementia or other cognitive impairments and mental disabilities - which may cause adult individuals to become confused and disoriented, often leaving them susceptible to wandering," Titus said. "This legislation provides the families of missing at-risk adults with a valuable resource and support system in their time of need."

According to the Mayo Clinic, three out of four people with Alzheimer's will wander at some point during the course of the disease. Those who wander run the risk of injury to themselves or others, exposure to harsh weather conditions, or experience other medical emergencies - especially if they require daily medications.

This special alert will be called the "Jade Alert" and requires a response within 24 hours of the adult being identified and reported as missing. Modeled after the state's Amber Alert system, Jade Alert utilizes media, transportation outlets - including the New York State Thruway - law enforcement officials in neighboring states, and appropriate Web sites to locate the lost individual. In addition, the legislation requires law enforcement agencies to conduct training and education for all personnel regarding the recognition and management of missing vulnerable adults. "Last year, a Syracuse woman who suffers from Alzheimer's disease left her home in the middle of the night and, through the help of several good Samaritans, traveled all the way to her former home in New Haven, Conn. Medical authorities were only alerted after the woman discovered someone living in her former house and became disoriented," Assemblywoman Titus said.

"On another occasion, my office was able to help locate and return an adult constituent with cognitive impairment safely to the family," added Titus. "Aside from the obvious concerns and frustrations of the family, the fact the person was not a young child or a senior suffering from Alzheimer's disease, made it very difficult for the family to receive the level of attention and support warranted."

"These incidents and others clearly demonstrate the tremendous need for the Jade Alert system. My district has numerous adult facilities and many more men and women living independently or with their families," Titus said. "With this system in place, families can rest assured knowing that in the event of an emergency their loved ones will receive the care and protection they deserve."

In addition to senior citizens, Jade Alert includes any adult over the age of 18 who has been diagnosed by a physician with a cognitive impairment, mental disability, or brain disorder. If signed into law, New York would join several other states, including Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas, in taking steps to assist families of vulnerable adults with locating their missing loved ones.

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