New Alzheimer's Bill passes Alabama House, heads to Senate

The Silver Alert Bill would allow a missing senior citizen alert to be issued for a person who suffers from Alzheimer's or Dementia.

Posted: Mar. 6, 2018 8:53 AM
Updated: Mar. 6, 2018 5:46 PM

Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease and that number is only expected to increase, according to the Alzheimer's Association. 

A local group of advocates spent "A Day on the Hill" in Montgomery pushing for a new Alzheimer's Bill.

HB 427, or the Silver Alert Bill did pass in the house and now heads to the senate. The bill lays out guidelines for when it comes to finding a missing person with the disease. 

"We were going to be living in a little bungalow on the beach somewhere fishing everyday, that was our dream," said Laura Morris. 

11-years-ago Laura Morris' husband was diagnosed with early on set dementia. 

She has now become her husband's full time caregiver.

"And that's why I fight, because we need help," added Morris. 

Morris is a vocal Alzheimer's advocate, involved with the Mid-south chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

She was one of about 150 advocated who spent a day in Montgomery in late February, advocating for house bill 427, the Silver Alert Bill.

Right now, current state law only says a missing senior citizen alert will go out if it meets certain guidelines. 

The Silver Alert bills takes that a step further, allowing a missing alert to be issued for someone suffering from Alzheimer's and guidelines for how to do so.

HB 427 will also require specialized training for law enforcement officers who search for a missing person with Alzheimer's or Dementia. 

"They may not be able to answer directly, some of them may not even know what their name is," said Morris. 

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander at some point during the course of the disease. 

"All caregivers, our worst nightmare is our loved one going missing, it gives me just a little bit of peace to know that Im going to have the community behind me if my loved one were to go missing," said Morris. 

The bill is sponsored by local Representative Laura Hall. In a statement to WAAY 31, Hall says in part, "as a community, we need to do what we can to establish these protocols in order to keep our loved ones with dementia safe."

Morris says beyond advocating for the disease, she hopes the state will continue to be educated on Alzheimer's. 

"We can advocate and we can talk about dementia but until we know how to deal with these patients, we're not going to be making any headway with this disease," added Morris. 

Lawmakers voted 99-0 in support of the bill. 

It now moves to the senate. 

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