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.
Who Should Wear a Medical Alert Bracelet?
- People with Diabetes
- If you have diabetes, EMTs will need to know. If they know about your condition, then they may recognize your emergency as a result of low blood sugar, for example, whereas in other circumstances they may not recognize your emergency situation outright.
- People with Heart Conditions
- If you are taking blood thinners, you use a pacemaker, you have high blood pressure, or any other heart condition, first responders must know because inappropriate medical care could be extremely dangerous in this case.
- People with Seizure Disorders
- If you have epilepsy or are otherwise at high risk of seizures, then not only first responders, but also any passerby should be able to provide you with the care you need. On your bracelet, include instructions for care as well as your condition and any medications you may be taking.
- People with Allergies
- You should absolutely mention if there are any medications that you are allergic to, or any medications that cannot be combined with current drugs you are taking.
- If you have severe food allergies, or if you are allergic to stinging insects such as bees or wasps, then you should also include that information on your medical alert bracelet along with instructions for care, such as administering an EpiPen.
- Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors
- Especially if you have or have had breast cancer, your lymph nodes may have been damaged or removed during treatment. That means that any trauma, including IV, BP, or needles to the affected side could cause a condition called lymphatic obstruction. In this case, it is imperative to wear a medical alert bracelet advising first responders which side of your body underwent treatment for breast cancer.
- People Who Have Undergone Weight Loss Surgery
- If you have previously undergone gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery, then intubation could represent serious complications. For that reason, you should wear a medical alert bracelet that clarifies that you underwent gastric bypass surgery in the past.
- People with Bleeding or Blood Disorders
- If you deal with a blood disorder, such as anemia, then you could be at risk of internal bleeding. In that case, you should wear a medical alert bracelet alerting doctors and first responders to check for internal bleeding.
- People with Cognitive or Developmental Disabilities
- If you have experienced a traumatic brain injury in the past, this will change the medical assessment that doctors will go through, so they should be alerted.
- If you have autism or other, similar mental disabilities, then a medical alert bracelet will advise doctors and first responders of things such as your verbal or nonverbal baseline.
- People with Neurological Disorders or Memory Problems
- In the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s, a medical alert bracelet can include an address in case the person gets lost, or it can include the name and phone number of a loved one.
- If a person has Tourette Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, or Parkinson’s Disease, your medical alert bracelet should include your treatments and medications.
- People with Chronic Conditions
- For conditions like asthma, Celiac’s, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, Adrenal Insufficiency, Hyperthyroidism, or rare diseases, a medical alert bracelet will save time and also inform the doctor’s treatment plan.
- People who Require Specific Treatment
- Some people are on multiple medications, in which case a medical alert bracelet can advise doctors of your medication list and help avoid medications that do not combine well.
- If you have a cochlear implant or a metal implant in some area or your body, doctors should be alerted to this on your medical alert bracelet.
- If, for some reason, you cannot undergo MRIs or X-Rays, doctors should know this so that they do not perform the improper treatment.
- If you are an organ donor, or if you have previously undergone an organ transplant, then doctors should be alerted to this.
What is the Need for a Medical Alert Bracelet?
People of all ages with certain medical conditions, allergies, or medication could benefit from wearing a medical alert bracelet. In a difficult scenario, in the case of an unconscious person, first responders or emergency personnel will know to look for indicators such as bracelets or necklaces to be sure they do not misdiagnose a patient or treat them with something that could be harmful, especially related to an allergy.
A paramedic knowing about these and other conditions right from the beginning could save the life of you or someone you love. Wasting time trying to identify the source of an injury or cause of an allergic reaction could make a huge difference in the efficiency of a patient’s treatment.
If one’s medical alert bracelet does utilize a help button, response time could also improve recovery from a fall or other injury. If someone falls and loses consciousness while wearing a medical alert bracelet, simply having the information engraved there could save a life. If the bracelet includes a help button that calls a care center or authority, those who stay conscious but cannot get back up can ask for the help they need.
Health Care and Medical Alert Bracelets
As one considers getting a medical alert bracelet, whether it is simply for identification purposes or comes with a help button feature, it can range in price.
Some hospitals offer free medical alert bracelets if you call and ask, although they will most likely not have the emergency button or alert system attached.
You can also get more stylish medical alert bracelets that look like normal bracelets but are engraved. These range in price from just $20 to hundreds of dollars, just like fashion jewelry.
If you choose a medical alert bracelet that has a built in button to call emergency services, then you usually need to pay for the original price of the item, plus a monthly subscription, which can range from $20 to $50 a month.
While some health insurance may cover or reimburse the purchase of a medical ID bracelet, the patient may need to get written approval from a doctor or some other kind of documentation proving the necessity. If the bracelet wearer has a flexible spending account (FSA), most medical alert bracelets should qualify to be paid for using that FSA.
At the most basic level, a medical identification tag on a bracelet or necklace can inform paramedics, first responders, or even bystanders of the wearer’s personal medical conditions, allergies, or emergency contact. This information can save valuable time in treating a patient and is especially vital for those who might be injured or unconscious and unable to communicate or remember this information on their own.
In addition to medical identification information, some advanced bracelets can include QR codes, USBs with more information, or buttons to call for help. At any level, medical alert bracelets increase the resources and effectiveness of care during an emergency situation, particularly those in which the wearer could be unconscious or confused.
If only for the peace of mind of caregivers, loved ones, and anyone suffering from a serious medical condition, it can be a good idea to look into medical alert bracelets.
- Home Safety and Dementia, AARP, aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-2017/wandering-dementia-concerns-ag.html
- Medical Conditions That Require a Medical ID, American Medical ID, https://www.americanmedical-id.com/faq#whatIs
- Medical ID Bracelets, MedicAlert Foundation, https://www.medicalert.org/product/catalog/medical-ids/bracelets