Geneva Atkins' family advocates for a more robust Silver Alert system

Geneva Atkins (Image: Tonya Campbell)

Geneva Atkins' family is advocating for a stronger silver alert system.

Specifically, they want warnings sent out within hours, when a person with dementia or Alzheimer's disappears.

Geneva had already passed away when she was finally found.

It happened on Monday in Meigs county, after authorities and her family searched for several days.

Geneva Atkins was last seen alive at at around 9:00 P.M. on April 16th.

The next day, at 9:40 P.M., the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office sent a media alert signaling a search for Geneva.

"Twenty-four hours, that's a lifetime," said Tonya Campbell, Geneva's daughter.

Campbell says if people had known to be on the lookout for her mother sooner, they wouldn't be planning her funeral today.

"If we can put the same emphasis on the Silvers as we do the Amber Alert, then my mom could have been found within minutes," said Campbell.

She wants to construct a data-base for dementia and Alzheimer's patients: after a diagnosis,that information would go local law enforcement (with the patient's permission).

One Alzheimer's advocate we spoke with says while its important to find missing seniors, preventing these disappearances needs to be a focus.

"Its a highly emotional and emotional discussion: when is it better to stop driving?" said Pat Caron, with Alzheimer's Tennessee.

Caron says one in six people with dementia wander.

"Driving our connection to freedom in a manner of speaking. People can't drive drive to the doctor's appointment or go grocery shopping, or to get their hair done. That's a loss, that's another loss," said Caron.

Geneva was about 45 minutes away from where she was last seen, in her car. She crashed into a tree line.

"I wish there was a different answer. We have to continue to educate people about what services are out there and what things to look for because part of it is inthat planning. planning fo rthe future when somebody has a diagnosis of dementia"

Even though educational programs are in place, Campbell says they weren't enough to save her mother.

"I'm not worried about where she is. I just know that while I'm here, I have work to do. and to get Geneva's story out," said Campbell.

Alzheimer's Tennessee's Found Program operates as a 24-hour emergency response service.

Last week, an 83-year-old man, who suffered from dementia, in Cookeville, died after he was reported missing.

Authorities found the body of Dr. James L. Smith two days after he was last seen driving his truck.

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