How to Convince an Elderly Parent to Wear a Medical ID
As years go by, there’s often a distinct moment when you realize that your parents have become “older folks.” Maybe it’s looking at a recent photo that really shows the changes in your dad’s face. Maybe it’s the first time you notice how long it takes your mom to get into the car. It’s around that time when you realize that your roles have changed. You will need to help take care of them as they age. A medical ID is a great way to do that.
Just because you’ve realized this doesn’t mean your parents are on the same page. As signs of aging become more significant, like increasing joint pain, decreasing mobility, or frequent accidents and falls, your parents may not be willing to acknowledge their growing limitations. This is where conversations come in about their care, and managing the need for safety with the need for dignity.
Aging in Place with a Medical ID
Most seniors want to “age in place,” or live out their later years in their homes as independently as possible. Research supports that seniors who age in place experience a higher quality of life than those who don’t. Yet, there are some health and safety risks involved, like injuries from falls or cooking accidents, mistakes in taking multiple medications, and getting lost or disoriented when dementia is involved. How can some of these risks be mitigated while still allowing aging parents to remain at home safely?
One way to provide protection and safety to parents aging in place is by getting them a medical ID. A MedicAlert ID is one of the most powerful objects to add to their lives to help maintain independence. It doesn’t take up much room or require major changes, like other safety equipment would. But, it can make a huge difference in their safety and your peace of mind.
How do I talk to my elderly parent about wearing a medical ID?
Chances are your aging parents aren’t emotionally ready to “flip the script,” having their children become their caregivers or tell them what’s best for them. After all, to them it probably doesn’t seem like very long since they were providing care to you, and they may not be emotionally ready to relinquish their control. Having conversations with your aging parents about lifestyle changes that will benefit them takes compromise and finesse. Both of you think you know what’s best for them, and the outcome should be a balance between their safety and their dignity. Asking them to bring in a home-care aide or install a walk-in bathtub is much more intrusive than suggesting a medical ID bracelet, but both conversations require that you respect their boundaries and be willing to really listen to their concerns and opinions.
Whatever changes you’re suggesting, whether it’s a medical ID or a walking aid, the most important thing is your approach. It is more effective to start the dialogue with something positive – like how a medical ID will benefit them – instead of with a negative or something that focuses on their risks or limitations. For example, if you’re out with your parent at a restaurant or celebration and notice someone wearing an attractive piece of medical ID jewelry, bring it to your parent’s attention:
“Hey, mom, do you see that woman’s beautiful bracelet? It’s so pretty, isn’t it? Can you believe it’s also a medical ID? That would look so nice on you!”
Opening a conversation with your parents about their safety with a question is usually a fail-safe way to begin. Ask them if they know anyone who has a medical ID and what their impressions are. Has anyone they know had an experience where a medical ID helped them in an emergency? Ask them about their concerns regarding accidents and falls at home, instead of starting with your own.
Whatever their reaction is to your suggestions, it’s important that going forward your parent feels like they have a measure of control over the decision, and that they have enough input and information to be a proactive partner. Providing them with resources like articles, websites, and testimonials can help them feel educated and comfortable with their choices.
What are the top 5 reasons my elderly parent should wear a medical ID?
- Without a doubt, medical IDs save lives. They speak for you at critical times when you are unable to speak for yourself.
- Medical IDs keep a bad situation from getting worse. They help to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and prevent medical errors from occurring.
- Fall risks: Seniors aging in place are at risk for accidents, particularly falls. In case of a fall, a medical ID will help ensure that your parent receives informed care This prevents fall outcomes from becoming even worse.
- Pre-existing conditions and medications: Many seniors have a complex medical history – chronic health conditions, prior surgeries and implants, and multiple medication prescriptions. Medical IDs give this information to first responders in emergencies, helping them provide informed care to your loved one.
- Peace of mind: Having a medical ID is like having a safety net for your elderly parent. It assists them in living an active and independent lifestyle while providing protection for them and peace of mind for both of you.
How do I talk to my elderly parent about a MedicAlert protection plan?
If your conversation about the benefits of a medical ID went well, your parent is now on board with getting a MedicAlert ID in the form of an attractive piece of jewelry or on a SmartWatch. This will ensure that their identity and some of their critical medical information is communicated to medical responders in an emergency if they are unable to communicate, but the information engraved on the ID is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all your parent’s important information and medical history. A MedicAlert protection plan covers what the ID alone doesn’t. Depending on the plan level, everything from contact notification information to vaccination records can be quickly accessed when needed. MedicAlert offers three different protection plans.
- Basic Plan: All three plan levels include the core benefits of a personalized ID and digital health profile, and MedicAlert’s 24/7 emergency response service. At this level, your critical health information – allergies, medications, pre-existing conditions, surgeries and implants, and your full vaccination history – is all in one place. In any emergency situation, at any time and at any place, our response team communicates this information to first responders.
- Advantage Plan: Includes all of the above benefits plus emergency contact notification, 24/7 wandering support service, and a personalized asthma plan.
- Advantage Plus Plan: Includes all the benefits above plus advance directives/DNR, document storage, and emergency physician notification.
Any one of these protection plans provides more than just protection for an elderly parent. They also provide the serenity of knowing that a mother with dementia who wanders from home and gets lost will be returned home safely, or that the paramedics who come to your dad’s aid if he falls will know that he has a pacemaker and treat him accordingly.
How do I help my elderly parent select a MedicAlert ID?
Once you and your aging parent have agreed that a medical ID is a good idea, ask them if they’d like your help in selecting the ID. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options that exist for IDs, and an online shopping session together using the MedicAlert link below can be something that the two of you navigate and accomplish together. Although the variety of IDs may be daunting at first, it also means that there is a perfect match for everyone. Here are some important things to know to help you and your parent make an informed choice.
- Types: MedicAlert IDs come in many different types, including bracelets, necklaces, Smart IDs, and shoe accessories. The very first MedicAlert ID was an engraved bracelet, and wrist-worn ID jewelry is sought and identified by first responders more than any other type.
- Style options: ID jewelry can be styled to match the individual taste of the wearer, from a delicate gold charm bracelet that your mom will show off to her friends, to a stainless steel dog-tag-style pendant and chain that your dad will be comfortable wearing everywhere. ID materials range from the most basic (stainless steel), to precious metals (14K gold, sterling silver, platinum), and even silicone, sports-styled wearables for parents who still maintain an active outdoor lifestyle. It’s often desirable to choose more than one style of ID for different occasions.
- Fit: Because medical IDs are worn continually it’s important that they fit securely and comfortably. You can help your parent take accurate measurements for a bracelet or necklace so that it won’t easily be lost or removed.
What should my parent have engraved on a MedicAlert ID?
Every MedicAlert ID comes with free, custom engraving, including a unique personal code used to access the wearer’s full medical profile. The size of the engraving space on the ID will determine how much vital information scan be engraved, but as a general guide it should include the following information:
- Basic personal data, such as name, address, and age
- Vital medical information, such as blood type, one or two critical medical conditions, severe allergies, medications, and any implanted medical devices.
If there is any situation in which your aging parent is unable to communicate and needs help, having this information engraved on their MedicAlert ID can prevent treatment and medication errors from making that bad situation worse. It might even mean the difference between life and death.
It’s challenging to both you and your parents to accept the changes and limitations of aging, especially the ways in which it reverses your roles as caregivers. Always make sure your parents are actively involved, within their capacity, in decisions about their lives. Try to remain as aware of their pride and dignity as you are of their health and safety, and encourage their independence as much as possible. If you suggest and assist rather than demand and insist, you’re likely to have happier and healthier parents, showing off their brand-new medical IDs and telling everyone it was their very own good idea.