New Laws in Illinois for 2010

With the beginning of a new year and new legislative session underway, I intend to periodically focus attention in my e-newsletter on new laws that have gone into effect here in Illinois. You may or may not be aware of changes in the law that could have an impact on you, your family or your community, and I hope to offer an explanation as to why these laws were enacted.

Amber Alert Program for Seniors

The first new law of interest establishes an Amber Alert Program for Senior Citizens and is legislation that I worked on last year with Senator Maggie Crotty and the Illinois State Police. Senate Bill 27, now Public Act #96-0149, helps locate elderly individuals who are missing.

The new Endangered Missing Person Advisory Program, commonly referred to as a “Silver Alert”, establishes a regional system which enhances the ability of local police agencies to rapidly transmit information regarding the older adult who is often afflicted with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and places a high priority in reporting, investigation and public notification. These new efforts are similar to Amber Alert which has been successful in locating children who are believed to have been abducted and in danger. Unfortunately, we have all read about cases of seniors wandering from home, getting disoriented or losing their way while driving. A delayed search can result in the loss of valuable time to locate a missing person.

The Illinois Department on Aging in coordination with the Illinois State Police is developing a community outreach program to promote awareness among the State’s healthcare facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other senior centers. The guidelines and procedures will ensure that specific health information about the missing person is not made public through the alert. State Police will determine whether the missing person is endangered or considered “high risk,” meaning circumstances indicate that the person may be at risk of injury or death. For more information about program services to assist older adults in Illinois and their caregivers, call the IDoA Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966.

In addition, another new law relating to the same topic is House Bill 282, now Public Act #96-0442, which adds to the definition of “missing endangered senior”, a person with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias who is reported missing. It provides that the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board shall conduct training programs for law enforcement personnel to assist in finding missing seniors as the population with this disease increases.