• dementia;
  • driving;
  • deaths


To determine the circumstances under which persons with dementia become lost while driving, how missing drivers are found, and how Silver Alert notifications are instrumental in those discoveries.


A retrospective, descriptive study.


Retrospective record review.


Conducted using 156 records from the Florida Silver Alert program for October 2008 through May 2010. These alerts were issued in Florida for missing drivers with dementia.


Information derived from the reports on characteristics of the missing driver, antecedents to missing event, and discovery of a missing driver.


The majority of missing drivers were men aged 58 to 94 who were being cared for by a spouse. Most drivers became lost on routine, caregiver-sanctioned trips to usual locations. Only 15% were driving when found, with most being found in or near a parked car. Law enforcement officers found the large majority. Only 40% were found in the county where they went missing, and 10% were found in a different state.


Silver Alert notifications were most effective for law enforcement; citizen alerts resulted in a few discoveries. There was 5% mortality in the study population, with those living alone more likely to be found dead than alive. An additional 15% were found in dangerous situations such as stopped on railroad tracks. Thirty-two percent had documented driving or other dangerous errors, such as driving the wrong way or into secluded areas or walking in or near roadways.