Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas Message from CEO

As we head towards Christmas and New Year, it’s time to think back to all the good intentions we had at the start of 2012 – and to reflect if we met them head-on or if like many resolutions, they were sometimes broken.

I know I always begin the year with great plans to look after myself better, see my friends more often, regularly remind my family I love them and to sort out the annual accumulation of paperwork, old clothes and junk that ‘grows’ in my house. Whatever our best intentions, we will sometimes fall short of our own expectations and I’ve learnt it’s best not to beat ourselves up too much about it. Take stock of what’s most important and focus on those things. I’ve tried to spend more time with my elderly relatives this year because that time is precious. I am always surprised at the snippets of information about their lives they share with me, which although small, are sometimes a revelation!

Like most of us, I know some of those closest to me are stretched financially with rising utility costs this year. One auntis hesitant to run her air conditioner on hot days so this Christmas I’ve offered to help with her bills so she can survive the heat. That gives me peace of mind. I call her regularly as well to make sure she’s ok and though we don’t live close to each other, she always gets pleasure from that simple phone call.

It’s the little things we can do in the holiday season that can make a real difference to others. Inviting neighbours in to enjoy some respite from the heat in your air conditioned home after a prolonged hot spell. Driving or walking around the  neighbourhood with young children (and the young at heart) to look at the Christmas lights. This holiday season, why not take the time to think of others less fortunate and think about ways to brighten their day. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Even an invitation to share a few minutes over a cool drink or a cup of tea with a neighbour may give them more joy than you can ever imagine. It’s the season to count our own blessings – giving fromthe heart is often appreciated much more than from the pocket.

Best wishes to all our members and friends for a safe and happy Christmas and New Year from the team at MedicAlert Foundation. We look forward to staying in touch in 2013.

Sandra Turner

Monday, 10 September 2012

Stroke Awareness

Take the time to understand and protect yourself against stroke

This week, 10–16 September 2012, marks National Stroke Week, a week dedicated to helping Australians understand the risk factors and encourage steps towards preventing stroke. While a recent poll by the Stroke Foundation found that many Australians do not rate stroke as a health concern1, you may be surprised to know that stroke is, in fact, Australia’s second biggest killer (after heart disease) and a leading cause of disability2.

One in every six Australians will have a stroke in their lifetime1 so it's vital that we all understand our risk factors and the warning signs.

A stroke can happen to anyone at any age – not just the elderly. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. When this all-important organ doesn't get enough oxygen or nutrients via the blood, the cells within can die causing irreversible brain damage.1

The effects of stroke are different for every person, depending on where the damage occurs in the brain and to what extent. Common outcomes include paralysis on either side of the body, speech and swallowing difficulties and/or problems with hearing and eyesight. For some a stroke can be fatal.1

High blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and excessive drinking can all make you more susceptible1, and yes, the older you are the more likely a stroke is to occur – the majority of strokes occur in people aged over 553. To reduce your risk of stroke it's important to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and diet, limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking1.

Stroke is a medical emergency therefore it is vital that anyone experiencing symptoms of a stroke receives immediate medical attention. But how can you tell? A simple way to recognise stroke is to take a good look at the person affected and use the FAST acronym to detect and act upon the warning signs:
Face – has their mouth drooped?
Arms – can they lift their arms?
Speech – is their speech slurred? Can they understand you?
Time – is critical. If you see any of these signs, no matter how long they last, call 000 immediately.1

MedicAlert® membership is invaluable for those who are at high risk of a stroke or experience side effects after suffering a stroke, such as speech and thinking difficulties. A genuine MedicAlert medical ID, worn around your wrist or neck, can communicate your vital health information to those who need to know. Each MedicAlert medical ID is inscribed with our 24/7 hotline number that first responders can call in an emergency, if they need further information held on file.

Essentially, MedicAlert membership offers peace of mind not only for those who wear the medical ID but also for family and friends who want to ensure the safety of loved ones.

A stroke can have a devastating effect on the individual, family and friends. Understand the risk factors, know the signs and get help quickly. Remember, prevention is better than the cure.

For more information on stroke, please visit or to find out how MedicAlert Foundation can protect you, or a loved one, please visit; it’s best to act now.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Carers need care too

In Australia today, over 2.9 million people are providing help and health support to a family member or friend1. While these people spend their time thinking about the well being of another it’s vital that they consider their own health too. MedicAlert Foundation provides a service that can help protect them and those they care for...

Imagine being responsible for the care of someone who couldn’t look after themselves either as a result of illness, accident or old age. Being the person they rely on 24 hours a day, every day of the year. That’s the reality for many Australians who provide unpaid support to a family member, friend or neighbour in need of assistance.

Whether the role of being a carer is taken on by necessity or choice, all carers are special people who are to be admired for their selfless dedication to another’s wellbeing.

The very nature of being a carer demands that someone else’s needs are often put first and the job can be both physically and emotionally draining. Although often overlooked, carers need to consider their health and support too.

Carers need to eat well and drink plenty of water. Exercise and getting enough sleep are also important. Taking time out should always be a priority – getting together with friends regularly, joining a social group or getting away for a short holiday every now and then are all good ideas. It’s also important to remember that there are support organisations throughout Australia whose sole aim is to make life easier for those whose job it is to care for another.

MedicAlert Foundation also assists carers. It’s interesting to note that carers are 40 per cent more likely than the rest of the population to suffer from a chronic health condition1. For those carers afflicted with such a condition, a MedicAlert membership is a great idea.

But MedicAlert Foundation also provides peace of mind for those who are fortunate enough to be in good health. Members can wear an emblem that not only specifies any individual health conditions but their information can also communicate the fact that they are responsible for another’s well being too. Should their own personal medical emergency arise, carers can rest assured that their MedicAlert emblem will bring to the attention of healthcare responders that there’s someone dear to them requiring assistance.

Looking after yourself means you will be more effective in looking after others. So, if you’re a carer, please take the time to consider what you can do for yourself and those you care about, and remember, we’re always there for you.

  • 1Healey, J (ed.) 2012, Carers: Ageing and Disability, vol. 342, The Spiney Press.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Help stem the diabetes epidemic

Ranked sixth in the leading causes of death in Australians1, diabetes is a serious health issue for a growing number of Australians1. Today, 1.7 million Australians have diabetes and up to half of type 2 diabetes cases remain undiagnosed2.

There is currently no cure for the disease and it is estimated that in the next 20 years around 3.3 million Australians will have type 2 diabetes1.

With up to 60% of cases of type 2 diabetes considered preventable,1 the good news is that we can all do something about working towards a more positive future. Understanding the disease and its risk factors are vital first steps.

So what is diabetes and who is at risk of developing the disease?

Simply put, diabetes is a disease where sufferers produce no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or insufficient levels of insulin (type 2 diabetes). Insulin is a hormone that is needed for the body to work effectively as it converts the glucose (sugar) from the food we eat into energy.

When someone with type 1 diabetes eats glucose it stays in their blood rather than being converted into energy. Without insulin the body burns its own fats instead. Unless treated with daily insulin injections, the affected person accumulates dangerous chemical substances in their blood, produced from the burning of fat, which can be fatal1.

While the cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet known, the disease has a strong family link and sadly can’t be prevented.

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, can usually be prevented, or its onset can at least be delayed. People with type 2 diabetes produce some insulin, but not enough, so it does not work effectively. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in older adults, however, growing numbers of younger people, including children, are now contracting the disease.

Family history and issues like high blood pressure and body shape may determine risk levels but lifestyle factors also play a significant part. In a society where more people are overweight or obese, are not physically active and have poor diets, we are seeing an unprecedented number of diabetes cases that never should have occurred.

If you’re living with the disease it’s important to take control; playing an active role in the self-management of the condition is this first step. A vital part of your management plan should include identifying yourself as someone living with diabetes. A MedicAlert medical ID is a great tool in this regard. It can alert those who come to assist you in an emergency to your condition and provides first responders with the immediate information they need to assist in ensuring appropriate medical assistance is administered.

8–14 July 2012 is Diabetes Awareness Week, a week dedicated to increasing awareness of diabetes in our community, how it can be prevented and effective ways to live with and manage the disease. There has never been a better time to educate and protect yourself so act now.

For more information on diabetes please visit:
For information on becoming a MedicAlert member please visit:

  • 1Diabetes Australia 2012, date accessed: 31 May 2012
  • 2AusDiab, The Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle Study. NSW Health, AusDiab.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Men’s health: it’s time

It seems that leading a hectic lifestyle is par for the course these days. Work, family commitments and just getting through every day can be a real struggle for many of us. Too often, taking care of our health falls at the bottom of our ‘to do’ lists; this is particularly true when it comes to men.

Compared to women, men visit the doctor less frequently, have shorter visits and only attend when an illness is in its later stages. This less than ideal approach to taking care of themselves has seen male deaths outnumber female deaths in every age group (except the over-65s because a large percentage of men sadly die before reaching retirement).1

Men’s Health Week, 11–17 June 2012, is all about improving men’s attitudes to taking care of themselves. It’s about teaching men and boys to manage their health responsibly to decrease the risk of illness, serious injury and even death.

Major health risks for men include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer, skin cancer and prostate cancer. However, men can reduce their risk by making simple lifestyle changes and committing to regular medical checkups. For example, just 30 minutes of exercise each day can have a real effect on reducing a male’s risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.

MedicAlert® Foundation, as a proud sponsor of Men’s Health Week, wants to see men become more proactive about looking after their health and wellbeing. By monitoring your health regularly and being aware of your family medical history, you can significantly increase your chance of catching any health issues early. Finding a GP you’re comfortable with is the first step.

If you have a health issue already, MedicAlert membership can provide life-saving benefits. A MedicAlert medical ID will quickly and effectively communicate your medical information should an emergency arise. The great thing is MedicAlert Foundation has jewellery specifically designed for men and boys. The range includes fashionable, high-quality jewellery as well as discrete bracelets and necklets. There’s something to suit everyone.

So guys, it’s time to make a real commitment to taking care of your health; be honest with yourself, address any issues and take the time to put yourself first.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Educate yourself this week on food allergies and anaphylaxis

Food allergies are a very real issue for many Australians, affecting one in 10 children and about two in every 100 adults1 and it is estimated that 10 people will die this year as the result2. At MedicAlert Foundation we recognise the importance of increasing awareness of this serious condition and are, this month, proud to sponsor Food Allergy Awareness Week in our dedication to protecting the health of all Australians.

This week, 14–18 May, is a great time to learn more about living with food allergies with many resources available that will provide more information on coping with and recognising food allergies.

So what exactly is a food allergy? There seems to be conflicting ideas as food allergies are often confused with food intolerances. A food allergy can be described as 'the immune system’s response to a protein in food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful2'. On contact with the protein, the immune system releases large amounts of chemicals which can affect a person’s breathing, gastrointestinal tract, skin and even heart2.

Signs that someone has had an allergic reaction to food include hives, welts or body redness, vomiting, tingling in the mouth, difficulty breathing, swelling of the eyes, lips, face or tongue, wheezing and difficulty talking. Children affected by food allergies may also appear pale and floppy2.

The most extreme form of reaction is called anaphylaxis, a generalised allergic reaction involving more than one body system. Anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to two hours of exposure to the trigger and can rapidly become life threatening2.

The most common food allergy triggers for children are eggs, milk, peanuts and tree nuts. Other triggers (for people of all ages) include fish, shellfish, sesame, soy and wheat. Even kiwi fruit, banana, chicken, mustard and celery are known to have caused severe allergic reactions. There are over 170 foods that have been linked to food allergies and for each person affected the response can be different2. Unfortunately there is no cure but prevention and immediate treatment in the case of exposure to those triggers are vital.

Whenever a person experiences an allergic reaction to food, no matter how mild, it is important they receive prompt medical attention. While fatalities are reasonably rare, serious reactions are all too common and you must be properly equipped to manage any type of reaction.

MedicAlert membership is a great tool in assisting people with food allergies to take control. A MedicAlert medical ID is engraved with your personal medical information, including any allergies and illnesses, your membership number and a 24/7 hotline number. In an emergency, those who’ve come to assist can easily access your details, identify the risk and provide the most appropriate medical attention. In the case of anaphylaxis, having an Anaphylaxis Action Plan combined with a MedicAlert medical ID can give you the best possible protection.

With food allergy treatment, timing is vital and this week is the perfect time to educate yourself on this serious condition. So if you suffer from a food allergy, or know someone else who does, speak to us about how we can help, and head to to find out more information and tips on coping.

Do you have some tips for coping with food allergies? We'd love to hear them...

  • 1 Osborne et al. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunolol 2011; 127: 668-676.
  • 2 Anaphylaxis Australia 2012, date accessed: 4 May 2012

Monday, 30 April 2012

MedicAlert Foundation: helping people living with asthma take control

Do you know someone affected by asthma? Chances are you do; currently there are over two million
Australians living with the disease1. The statistics are alarmingly high – made even more serious when you consider that over 400 people die from the condition each year2 – and researchers are yet to find a cure3. So, for now, we need to concentrate on understanding and effectively managing the disease as best we can, to prevent more fatalities and to help those affected live a healthy, active lifestyle.

So what is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease where a person’s airways react strongly to triggers they are allergic to or are simply irritated by. When the trigger is present, the person’s airways become inflamed and the muscles surrounding them tighten, making it difficult to breathe3.

Common asthma triggers include colds and flu, inhaled allergens such as pollens, moulds, animal dander and dust mites, as well as smoke, physical activity and exercise. In some cases, even something as simple, and unpredictable, as changes in temperature can cause an attack3. For each person, the trigger and the reaction can be different. The good news is that with a little bit of help, the disease is manageable.

Taking control
People with asthma can take control by putting in place an action plan (with their doctor) and ensuring they have regular asthma check-ups (as asthma can change over time). An action plan arms those living with the disease with knowledge about their triggers, how to respond to their symptoms, how to best utilise their medication including correct use of preventer medication, and when to seek medical help3.

However, while an action plan is certainly a great way for those with asthma to lead fulfilling lives, the reality is that an asthma attack can occur at any time. That’s where MedicAlert membership comes in.

MedicAlert membership offers a simple, though potentially life-saving addition to any asthma action plan. A MedicAlert ID carries the internationally recognised MedicAlert emblem and is engraved with your personal medical information, membership number and a 24/7 hotline number for emergency service to call for more information. Should a medical emergency arise, emergency services and healthcare professionals can easily recognise that you’re an asthma sufferer and respond accordingly.

1 May 2012 is World Asthma Day, a day dedicated to improving asthma awareness and taking control of the disease. So if you are living with asthma, or know of someone who is, this month is the perfect time to consider how best to manage a condition that should not be allowed to hold you back.

  • 1 National Asthma Council Australia 2006, Asthma Management Handbook 2006. National Asthma Council Australia, Melbourne, Australia.
  • 2 National Asthma Council Australia 2012, date accessed: 23 April 2012
  • 3 Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring 2011, Asthma in Australia 2011. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra, Australia.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Plan for a safe break

April is here already! All those New Year’s celebrations feel like forever ago and the first hectic months of the year have well and truly taken their toll on personal energy reserves. For many, April is the month in which we set aside a little time to enjoy an already well-earned break.

Many of us jump at the chance to go on a trip, some prefer to devote their days to massages and retail therapy, while others believe there’s nothing like a good dose of fishing to relax the soul.

Whatever your plans are you need to consider the best ways to keep yourself, and your loved ones, safe over the break. Planning ahead will mean you get to enjoy yourself that much more.

April is a particularly busy time for the Grey Nomads – the growing legion of 50+ travellers who begin to head north to escape the winter chills. Year after year, they take off to explore new destinations or head back to old favourites, enjoying all our wonderful, open country has to offer.

It’s also a great time for mums, dads and kids to reconnect without the busyness of everyday life getting in the way. After all the excitement of an Easter egg hunt, this time is usually packed full of fun day trips and new activities, or sometimes even a little escape to the family holiday home.

If you’re a grandparent, you no doubt relish the school holidays as a time to catch up with the grandkids without having to make an appointment. You’ll take the children out, play games, cook; pretty much spoil them rotten. It can be tiring but you’ll have it no other way.

No matter what your upcoming plans are, being a MedicAlert member offers you complete peace of mind to get out and make the most of your free time. Your MedicAlert ID carries the internationally recognised MedicAlert emblem and is engraved with your personal medical information, membership number and a 24/7 hotline number. Should a medical emergency arise, emergency services and healthcare professionals can quickly and easily access your vital personal information, ensuring that you are treated effectively and efficiently.

MedicAlert membership: don’t go without it.

If you’ve got upcoming travel plans or something else you’re looking forward to this April, why not leave a comment here; let us know what you’re doing. We’re always keen to hear what our members and fans are up to!

Monday, 6 February 2012

You can make a difference

Did you know that one organ and tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of 10 or more people?
You can make a difference; make your donation wishes known now...

You know the importance of wearing a MedicAlert emblem to let emergency staff know your medical condition(s). But did you know that MedicAlert Foundation can also advise of your wishes regarding organ and tissue donation at the most critical time?

Whether you choose to communicate your donation wishes via your bracelet, necklace or just on your membership card, MedicAlert provides an immediate and effective way to inform emergency services personnel of your decision to save and improve lives. But first, you must register your donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register and, most importantly, you must discuss your donation decision with your family.

“In 2011, 1001 Australians and their families benefited from the legacy of 337 of their fellow Australians who last year became organ donors,” said Dr Jonathan Gillis, National Medical Director of the Organ and Tissue Authority. However, the Authority emphasises that many more people could have been helped if the families of willing donors knew of their loved ones’ desire to donate.

You see, in Australia the family is always asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased before donation or transplantation can proceed. While many Australians are prepared to be organ and tissue donors, the family consent rate is less than 60%.

DonateLife Week, held this year between 19–26 February, is part of the Australian Government’s national awareness campaign to increase family discussion about donation wishes. Since the reform began just over two years ago, Australia has achieved the highest ever number of donors and transplant recipients.

During DonateLife Week, all Australians will be encouraged to ask and know their loved ones’ donation wishes . Sure, it’s a difficult topic to bring up, but it’s important that you do so.

For some great suggestions on how to start a conversation about organ and tissue donation or to find out more about becoming a donor yourself, visit

This month MedicAlert Foundation is encouraging you to communicate your wishes with your family first and then with us. It’s the best way you can make a difference.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Just because you may have an underlying medical condition, it’s no reason to hold back on experiencing new adventures in life.

Why not push the boundaries of what you thought was possible?

With a MedicAlert membership you can have more confidence to tackle any of life’s adventures with the assurance that if something unforeseen happens, your medical ID can alert emergency staff of your medical condition(s) in the event that you cannot effectively communicate yourself. Your medical ID is personally engraved with your membership number, key medical information and 24/7 emergency hotline number for emergency services and healthcare professionals to access.

Membership is suitable for any medical condition including diabetes, asthma, allergies, heart problems, epilepsy, transplants, special medication needs or simply for emergency identification.

So don’t just talk about maybe one day doing all those exciting things you’ve always wanted to.

In 2012 the world is yours and you should feel free to do what makes you happy.

Adventure beckons and with a MedicAlert emblem you can feel safe in the knowledge that you have our support.

What is your new year's resolution?