How to Navigate through Living Wills and Senior Emergencies

An increasing number of older people prefer a natural death over being kept alive on a ventilator.


Last winter, an AP story was syndicated across North America about an American pathologist who tattooed a No CPR directive on his chest .

Jillian Megee, Marketing Communications Manager of  Medic Alert Foundation, offered a less radical concept of advanced directed management.

Advance Directives

“A Do Not Resuscitate - DNR - and a living will are available on site to first responders and physicians through Medic Alert,” said Megee.

Forms for each state are notarized, and then uploaded on Medic Alert’s files for availability to family and personal physicians. “It’s communicating your treatment. How you want to be treated in an emergency," explained Megee.

m alert

Seniors usually wear a Medic Alert, in bracelet or pendant, to alert first responders and physicians about pre-existing conditions, like:

. Alzheimer's disease
. Drug allergies
. Diabetes
. Pacemaker
. Use of anticoagulants

Medic Alerts for seniors are engraved with:

. The most relevant health information
. The 800 number of Medic Alert
. The member’s personal ID number

First responders and health professionals can call Medic Alert's 24/7 "live" call center and receive the member’s full medical record. The family and personal physician are notified.

Alzheimer's/Dementia Related Wandering

Medic Alert has developed an Alzheimer's/Dementia Wandering program in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association and local police to safely return home a person with memory loss.

“We’re in close touch with the family,” said Megee. “Any time there’s an emergency, the family is made aware that their loved one has been found and is informed of their location.”


There is some competition for Medic Alert, the pioneer of medical identification tags, since its beginnings in 1953. Universal Medical Data LLC in Phoenix, AZ, has distinguished itself by adding medical history features like USB devices and QR codes implanted into their bracelets and pendants.

Megee said that Medic Alert experimented with these features but found they weren’t always compatible with emergency responders. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), like firefighters, didn’t always have computers with them in the field.

The organization has opted for online and mobile apps for first responders who register their smart phones with Medic Alert.

Medic Alert pioneered the space and has built on its impressive non-profit status and infrastructure. There is room for competition, but it may take awhile for others to catch up.