When a loved one is missing, every moment can feel like an eternity. That wait can be especially terrifying if the missing person suffers from dementia, potentially leaving them without the cognitive abilities to stay safe until help arrives. 

A bill sponsored by Illinois state Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) was signed into law today, providing law enforcement with extra tools to help locate older adults with Alzheimer’s or related dementia when they go missing. The new law creates the Silver Search program, whose task force will develop a toolkit and statewide awareness program.

“There’s great risk when people with dementia go missing that they might not be able to keep themselves safe,” said Sen. Biss, “so it’s imperative we use all the tools at our disposal to find them quickly. Silver Search and programs like it are used across the country to help law enforcement act swiftly and appropriately to help locate this specific population.”

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one-third of 210,000 Illinoisans with Alzheimer’s wander away from safety. Under the state’s existing Missing and Endangered Person Advisory, the new law’s expert task force will put together the tools to provide law enforcement the best chance of finding and bringing home safely those who are not able to find their way home on their own.

The new law goes into effect on January 1 of next year.