What to Put on a Medical Alert Bracelet: A Comprehensive Guide

As we age, we become more susceptible to injury, illness, and emergencies. As unfortunate a reality as this is, there are ways to combat it and address it head on. Medical alert bracelets, watches, and necklaces are all fantastic resources to help avoid stressful and dangerous situations.

Whether or not a medical alert bracelet is right for your senior is ultimately up to the senior themself and, if appropriate, the caregiver. 

If you live with chronic illnesses, take medications, have allergies, or are otherwise at a higher risk for serious complications in the case of an emergency, a medical alert bracelet will likely be a fantastic tool for you.

What is a medical alert bracelet?

Medical alert watches, bracelets, and necklaces are all worn on the body and can be utilized as a means of information for first responders in the case of an emergency. 

A medical alert bracelet can communicate crucial details and information – details or information that may impact the way a first responder treats an individual – quickly, and even if an individual is unresponsive.

Important Details to Include on a Medical Alert Bracelet

Your medical alert device should be easy to access and to understand; an outsider should be able to look at your bracelet and make sense of the information even without any context. 

The details that you include on your medical alert bracelet will depend on your unique circumstances. There are a few different main categories to keep in mind that may help you make decisions about what’s important to include and what’s not.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions, especially those that are chronic, are perhaps the most obvious candidate for inclusion on a medical alert bracelet. Medical conditions are often the cause of emergency situations, and as a result being aware of their presence may make it easier for health professionals to treat you quickly.

Medical conditions can also cause your body to respond to different medications, stimuli, and treatment options differently. Having a basic understanding of what medical conditions an individual might have can sometimes help piece together what’s happening, what steps to take next, and how to avoid dangerous situations in the future.

For example, if you have diabetes, and your medical alert bracelet clarifies your condition, then a medical responder could quickly identify the medical emergency as an issue with low blood sugar. This may allow a first responder or even a bystander to identify and treat your condition quickly without needing to first rule out other conditions.

Another example would be a bleeding disorder, such as anemia, which doctors should be alerted to in case they need to check for internal bleeding.

Any Cognitive, Developmental, or Other Types of Disabilities

If you or your loved one has autism, or hearing or vision loss, then those disabilities should be mentioned along with your verbal baseline. This may, for example, let medical caregivers know that your loved one is nonverbal, or deaf.

Instructions for Care

If you have a condition like epilepsy, then even bystanders may be able to recognize and treat your condition. In this case, you may include on your medical alert bracelet what sort of condition you have and how to treat it. Then, in the event of a seizure or another medical emergency, anyone who notices the bracelet can help you, and you may be able to avoid going to the hospital.

Allergies

If you or your senior have specific allergies, especially if they’re severe, include them on your or your senior’s medical alert bracelet.

The allergies you list should be allergies that can cause a reaction. For instance, if you live with seasonal allergy symptoms, it’s not necessarily something you need to note on your medical alert bracelet.

If you or your senior has an allergy to a specific medication or antibiotic, food, product, material, or other similar sources, it can indeed be useful to include this detail on your bracelet so that caregivers do not unknowingly give you a medication that causes an allergic reaction.

Remember that allergies do not just include medications that you cannot receive, but if you have a food or insect allergy, then your medical alert bracelet can include instructions for how to administer treatment. You may mention what your allergy is, along with where to find an EpiPen and how to administer it, for example.

Medications

If the holder of the medical alert bracelet takes prescription medication, it can be helpful to include this information on said bracelet. 

Different medications can cause varied side effects and interact with other medications and treatments differently, so being aware that those medications may be in an individual’s system may influence the way medical professionals and first responders handle injury or illness.

If you take multiple prescription medications (or some that aren’t especially relevant or significant), you may want to choose to prioritize those that are most significant or most often consumed.

Identification Information

Identification information can be incredibly useful for first responders for lots of reasons. Not only does it help them identify who you are, it can help them come into contact with your loved ones and properly handle logistical information.

In the case of a serious emergency (where an individual is unresponsive), a medical alert device may be the only way that first responders can get identification information quickly.

You might choose to include the name of the bracelet owner as well as other details, like date of birth, phone number, and more. You might also choose to include emergency contact information for yourself or someone else.

If you are a caretaker for someone who has memory problems, then you may want to consider adding your address to the alert bracelet in case your loved one gets lost. In that case, anyone could direct them back toward their home.

Treatments that Could be Dangerous for you

If you have a heart condition, a pacemaker, cochlear implants, or any conditions that may limit the care you can receive, then that will be vital for first responders to know. Simple procedures that they could rely on in an emergency situation may be ruled out by your condition. Even someone trained in first aid or a bystander may need to know what basic treatments you can and cannot receive.

An example would be someone who has gone through gastric bypass surgery. If you have had gastric bypass surgery in the past, then intubation can represent serious complications. Although this is not a current medical condition, it’s an example of something that should be mentioned on your bracelet, because, while EMTs, doctors, and nurses may not recognize immediately that you’ve undergone weight-loss surgery in the past, it will still affect the sort of treatment they give you.

If you have received any organ transplants in the past, that is also vital to include, or if you have any metal implants, or if you cannot go through basic medical procedures such as an MRI or blood transfusion.

Another important example to note is that any breast cancer survivor who has had lymph nodes removed or damaged cannot receive any IV or needles on the side affected by treatment because it could cause lymphatic obstruction. In this case, your medical alert bracelet should mention your previous condition, and also clarify which side of your body cannot receive needles.

Basic Medical Information

Basic medical information may include facts such as your blood type and whether or not you are an organ donor.

Conclusion

Medical alert bracelets, necklaces, watches, and similar devices all provide a quick and easy way for first responders and medical professionals to access important information about an individual. 

These devices are utilized often during cases of emergency, illness, or injury. First responders are instructed to specifically seek out medical alert bracelets and other devices, so you can rest assured that the effort you put into obtaining one will pay off should you need it to.

Having a medical alert bracelet on hand gives many seniors and caregivers alike a sense of peace of mind. Knowing that you’re well-equipped to make it through unpredictable situations can make venturing out into the world and having new experiences less intimidating and more accessible. 

There’s no better way to keep your senior feeling like themselves than ensuring that their needs, wants, and safety are all protected and addressed.

Sources: 

  1. Age-Related Diseases and Clinical and Public Health Implications for the 85 Years Old and Over Population, US National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Talk with a free senior living advisor


By clicking "Get Help Finding a Home" you agree to our Partner's Terms of Use. You also consent that we, or our partner's customer communities, can reach out to you using a system that can auto-dial; however, you do not need to consent to this to use our service. Our partner's Privacy Policy describes their information collection and use.

Related Articles

5 Must-Knows About Eating Habits in Late-Stage Dementia

Over time, you may notice changes in your loved one’s eating habits in late stage dementia. While loss of appetite is a normal phenomenon, it’s important to understand how to make mealtime comfortable, nourishing and safe for your loved one. Let’s go through some key must-knows about late stage dementia loss of appetite and other …

5 Must-Knows About Eating Habits in Late-Stage Dementia Read More »

Hip Arthritis: What It Is and Which Exercises Can Help

Arthritis is a common condition that affects various parts of people’s bodies. A specific form of this condition, hip osteoarthritis, affects about 1 out of 4 people throughout their lives, although there are several other forms that can occur. If you’re a senior living with hip arthritis (or if you’re caring for one), it’s especially …

Hip Arthritis: What It Is and Which Exercises Can Help Read More »

How Long Does the Average Hospice Patient Live?

What Hospice Means Hospice is a medical program that supports people who are in the end-of-life stage. When a person enrolls in hospice, it means they are no longer pursuing treatment to extend their life expectancy. Instead, the focus of hospice care is to provide a comprehensive support system that makes a person’s final days …

How Long Does the Average Hospice Patient Live? Read More »

Couple sitting on a park bench
Managing Edema in the Elderly: Swollen Legs, Ankles & Feet

Swollen legs, ankles and feet are a common complaint for aging adults. Learn about the common causes of edema, as well as tips for managing it better.

Four Levels of Hospice

What is Hospice Care? Many diseases and conditions are treatable or even curable, but what happens when someone reaches the stage where they aren’t getting better? Sometimes, people do not respond to medication, or they simply do not wish to continue treatment after dealing with a terminal illness for some time. In this case, when …

Four Levels of Hospice Read More »

Marking off a checklist
Early Signs of Dementia Checklist

No one wants to believe they or their loved one could be suffering from dementia, but with about 5.8 million people (5.6 million over the age of 65) diagnosed with some form of dementia in the U.S., it’s a condition we have to admit can impact us or those close to us. A dementia diagnosis …

Early Signs of Dementia Checklist Read More »