SPRINGFIELD— Last year, in Georgia, an elderly man suffering from Alzheimer’s slipped away from his home in the middle of the night and wandered a nearby neighborhood in the cold only to be shot dead when mistaken for an intruder.

Just a few weeks ago, in Texas, an elderly man suffering from Alzheimer’s wandered away from his family’s home in the middle of the night in the midst of freezing temperatures. He was later found dead.

These are the tragic stories state Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is hoping to prevent in Illinois through an emergency notification system known as “Silver Alert” to help locate individuals with Alzheimer’s who go missing.

“When someone with Alzheimer’s wanders, every minute matters. The sooner we can alert the public, the sooner we can get the person back home safe and sound,” said Bertino-Tarrant.

The senator is the co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1846 that would create such a program through the Illinois State Police. It would be similar to the “Amber Alert” program the State Police already have for partnering with news outlets and broadcasters to quickly distribute information to try to find missing children.

The Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association estimates more than 200,000 Illinois residents have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Nearly one-third of those will likely wander off and the state currently doesn’t have an adequate system to alert the public.

Bertino-Tarrant discussed the need for the system during a meeting with the Alzheimer Association’s Illinois chapter this week in Springfield. At least 20 other states already have Silver Alert systems similar to what Senator Bertino-Tarrant proposes for Illinois.

“The Alzheimer’s Association has been the driving force for advocacy,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I look forward to working with its members to bring this system to Illinois.”

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