August is MedicAlert Awareness Month and most people think of the bracelets or necklaces as a warning for first responders of an allergy or other health problem in case of emergency. It’s true that this kind of knowledge can save a life by reducing medication errors and helping make a quick and correct diagnosis. What family and caregivers may not have considered is the usefulness of a MediAlert bracelet to help people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia get safely back home if they wander away and become lost.
The Alzheimer’s Association has recently partnered with the MedicAlert Foundation to provide a national registry and free medical identification bracelets to people who are at risk for wandering and becoming lost. According to the Foundation, 6 in 10 adults with Alzheimer’s or related dementia will wander. With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Safe Return program helps train police officers how to handle situations involving people with cognitive disabilities who have wandered. The program also provides 24-hour emergency support for families who have a missing loved-one.
People with dementia can become lost easily, even in familiar surroundings, and caregivers often worry that individuals with Alzheimer’s will go missing and harm will come to them. Half of people with dementia who go missing for 24 hours end up seriously injured or dead so it’s crucial to call 911 immediately if someone with dementia goes missing.
MedicAlert bracelets are just one way to help protect people living with dementia while encouraging caregivers and individuals to stay connected with their communities. Social isolation increases the risk for depression and other health problems for both caregivers and those receiving care. For more information about living safely with dementia visit Finding Your Way here.