Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawmakers push plan for alert for missing seniors

PALM HARBOR — Two days after an 81-year-old Largo man was found more than 150 miles away from home, Florida lawmakers and senior groups called for the creation of a statewide notification system to help find missing Alzheimer's patients.

State Reps. Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin, and Kurt Kelly, R-Ocala, announced Tuesday plans to introduce a bill to the Florida Legislature that would set up a Silver Alert program.

It would send out an alarm similar to the Amber Alert, which is used to help find missing children. But the Silver Alert would be for people with Alzheimer's and dementia-related illnesses.

The news was announced at a press conference two days after Charles Oliphant drove away from his Largo home in his blue 1999 Chrysler Town & Country van. Florida Highway patrol troopers found Oliphant in the eastbound lane of Alligator Alley near Fort Myers.

In April, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, filed a bill in Congress for federal funding of state alert systems.

Gloria Smith, president of the local Alzheimer's Association chapter, said the bill will bring attention to an issue that can overwhelm families.

"Wandering is not predictable," she said. "You can't wait for it to happen."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 300,000 Floridians with the disease will wander away. Wanderers often get disoriented and most are found within 5 miles. Of those not found within 24 hours, half will be seriously injured or die.

Belleair resident Mary Lallucci said a Silver Alert could have helped save her mother, Mary Zelter, who was found in the Intracoastal Waterway a week after wandering away from a local supermarket.

"I was amazed that Florida didn't have this program with the number of senior citizens living here," Lallucci said.

Lallucci said her family could only file a missing person report. She said she was frustrated with the lack of options.

"I just don't want other families to go through that," she said.

Bilirakis, who cites Lallucci's story as inspiration, said he hopes to have his bill signed into law as early as the end of the year.

"It seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes in Washington no-brainers don't get passed," Bilirakis said.

The bill calls for grants of at least $100,000 for states to establish and maintain programs. North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Michigan already have systems in place.

Jackie Alexander can be reached at jdalexander@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4167.

Lawmakers push plan for alert for missing seniors 06/03/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 10:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after:Matt Andriese trying to put good finish on injury-marred season

    Blogs

    RHP Matt Andriese can't make up for the 2 1/2 months he missed due to a hip injury this season after getting off to a solid 5-1, 3.54 start.

    But he can use his last few outings to remind the Rays, and himself, of how good he can be.
    He did it the hard way Thursday, allowing three runs as four of the …

  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  3. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  4. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles

    Wildlife

    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]
  5. Photo of the Day for September 22, 2017 - Willets taking flight

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Dan Cleary of Madeira Beach, FL.