How to Keep Your Loved One with Memory Loss Safe: The Value of ID Bracelets

Keeping a loved one with memory loss safe is one of the greatest challenges at-home caregivers face today. Memory loss authorities at the Alzheimer’s Association® advise that wandering and the risks it presents for loved ones getting lost or injured is one of the foremost safety challenges.

According to the BrightFocus® Foundation, “Wandering is one of the most dangerous behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. An Alzheimer’s patient who wanders outside alone can easily become lost, confused, injured, and even die from exposure to harsh weather or other safety risks. An estimated six in 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease are at risk of wandering when they become confused or disoriented. This can happen at any stage of the disease. It is important to take steps to prevent wandering and know what to do in an emergency.”

ID Bracelets Can Help Keep Your Loved One with Memory Loss Safe

Says Stacey Houseknecht, NHA, CTRS, ADC, Administrator at Saunders House in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania,

“A loved one who tends to wander should never be left alone. Even if there is another adult family member in the house, caregivers should always seek to minimize the possibility that the person will leave the house. 

“One of the simplest and most effective steps you can take to prevent wandering is to purchase a medical identification (ID) bracelet for your loved one.ID bracelets play a very important role in keeping loved ones with memory loss safe from getting lost or injured, and we strongly encourage family caregivers to make use of them. 

“A medical ID bracelet for your loved one includes his or her name, the words, “memory loss,” and an emergency phone number. These types of bracelets are readily available in drugstores and online and should be worn by your loved one at all times.

“At Saunders House, we take wandering and other safety issues surrounding memory loss very seriously. As part of our Care Traditions program, which provides a safe and secure environment for our residents with memory loss, we offer a special ID bracelet for residents who the interdisciplinary team has identified as a wandering risk. The bracelet activates our alarm system and alerts our care team should the resident try to leave a secure area.” 

The Safe Return Program: A Safety Net for Loved Ones with Memory Loss

Stacey adds, “Another important safety feature that at-home caregivers can utilize is the MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return® program. This joint initiative is a 24-hour, nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer's or a related dementia who wander off or have a medical emergency. The program provides a special ID bracelet or pendant to be worn by the individual with dementia.”

As described by the Alzheimer’s Association® article, MedicAlert + Safe Return,If an individual with Alzheimer's or a related dementia wanders and becomes lost, caregivers should call 911 and then call the 24-hour emergency response line (800.625.3780) to report it. 

“A community support network will be activated, including local Alzheimer's Association® chapters and law enforcement agencies, to help reunite the person who wandered with the caregiver or a family member. With this service, critical medical information will be provided to emergency responders when needed. 

“If a citizen or emergency personnel finds the person with dementia, they can call the toll-free number listed on person's MedicAlert + Safe Return ID jewelry. MedicAlert + Safe Return will notify the listed contacts, making sure the person is returned home.”

The cost of the MedicAlert + Safe ReturnID jewelry is very reasonable. Purchasers receive an enrollment package that includes the following:

  • A personalized medical ID with the MedicAlert + Safe Return 24/7, toll-free number
  • 24/7 emergency response and family notification service
  • Personal emergency health record
  • A “Six Steps to a Safe Return” magnet
  • Advance Directive Storage

Other Memory Loss Safety Devices for Wandering

As noted by the Alzheimer’s Support website, “There are many tools to help with wandering including cell phones and tennis shoes with GPS, necklaces and bracelets with IDs built into USB cards.” 

Wearable tracking devices enable your loved one’s location to be continuously monitored so that they can be found quickly if needed. A variety of watches, shoes, necklaces and ankle bracelets are being produced with tracking technology today that can be purchased online.

The primary concern is that all of these locator devices can be removed by the person wearing them. Thus, there is still an important place for human oversight in keeping your loved one safe.

In Case of Emergency: What to Do if Your Loved One Is Missing

If your loved one with memory loss goes missing, there are several things you should do immediately as it is extremely important to locate them as quickly as possible. Examples include: 

  • Call 911 or your community’s equivalent immediately. You should treat this as an emergency!
  • Have a contact list of neighbors handy that you can call immediately to see if they’ve seen your loved one.
  • Check dangerous places in your neighborhood first. Examples include busy crossroads, bridges, creeks, overpasses, drainage ditches, or steep terrain.
  • Have a detailed description of your loved one, including a current photo, that first responders can use in their search. Clothing with your loved one’s scent is also very useful for dogs trained to locate lost persons by smell.  

You can find the complete listof emergency measuresat Staying Safe: Wandering and the Alzheimer’s Patientalong with other useful tips on coping with the challenges of wandering to keep your loved one safe.

Says Stacey, “Home safety  typically becomes a criticalissue for any aging family member. Therefore, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have as well as to stay current on a variety of other senior health and care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “How to Keep Your Loved One with Memory Loss Safe: The Value of ID Bracelets,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section. 

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness 

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 orcontact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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