Silver Alerts ramp up in the winter. How can you protect your loved ones?

Silver Alert frequency rising

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You’ve seen them come your across your screen: Silver Alerts.

Those alerts issued when a person goes missing who has a medical condition which impairs their judgement.

Sometimes in the winter, they seem to come one right after the other. Scientists say dementia can get worse in the wintertime. In fact, a study by Medical News Today shows older adults were 31 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia in the winter months.

Capt. Johnny Poulos is the spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, which issues Silver Alerts.

“Looking over statistics over the last three years, we do see an increase in the winter months,” Poulos said.

This year so far there have been 41 Silver Alerts. Last year there were 34 all together. It’s unclear how many are still open because they originate with local agencies, who must be sure to alert DPS when the subject of the Silver Alert is found. If the agency doesn’t let DPS know the subject of the Silver Alert has been found, the Alert remains open.

A Silver Alert originates with the local police department or sheriff’s department. When all the criteria are met, it is sent up to DPS to disseminate. That’s why current information is so important.

“But if it’s not an updated photo, people are not going to recognize the person in the alert due to the picture that has been disseminated to the public, so it’s very very imperative that we have an updated photo, again, not just of the person that is missing, but of any vehicle they may have access to including the tag number," he said.

When you have taken those photos and written down your loved one’s critical information, you need to make sure they’re where they can be easily turned over to your local law enforcement if your loved one disappears, Poulos said.

“We definitely encourage family members to share information with family members just in case a caregiver is out of town and we have a loved one go missing," Poulos said.

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