Sign the Charter

More than one in four of us lives with diabetes or prediabetes. That’s more than ten million Canadians.

Chances are that diabetes affects you or someone you know. Think about your closest friends and family – it likely won’t take long to create a list of those that you know and love facing this chronic disease in one way or another.

My list is long. More than 25% of MedicAlert members live with diabetes. And it’s one of the most prevalent medical conditions for participants in our charitable community programs.

With more than 20 people being diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day it’s important for those in the charitable healthcare sector to work together, bringing awareness to the need for national support for everyone living with diabetes.

That’s why the MedicAlert team and I support a wonderful initiative advocating for the improved and equitable treatment for Canadians living with diabetes. The Diabetes Charter for Canada, presented by the Canadian Diabetes Association, outlines what people with diabetes can and should expect from themselves and others in the diabetes community. With enough support, it is hoped that over time, the values presented in this charter will become the “new standard” for people living with diabetes.

The Charter will become a rallying point to deliver the following long-term benefits:

  • Empowering Canadians with diabetes and their caregivers;
  • Providing governments with a standard of comparable access, care and support needed to ensure people living with diabetes can live to their full potential;
  • Ensuring that people who live with diabetes are treated with dignity and respect;
  • Enhancing the health and quality of life for people who live with diabetes and their caregivers.

I encourage you to read and sign the charter to demonstrate your support for this important initiative. Let’s help all Canadians living with diabetes get the support they need. Please visit: www.mydiabetescharter.ca

To your good health,
- Robert

Simple and Effective

Wearable technology was front and centre at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. New body worn devices measure everything from activity to sleep patterns. And given today’s ever increasing focus on healthcare technology, I am fairly confident that one day soon, wearable technology will play an important role in helping us better manage our health. But it is still early days.

With so many “gadgets” on display, it was interesting to see how technological advances can often be considered very cool without being entirely practical. For example, we can now install a lock that allows for remote unlocking of our front door through a smartphone app. This technology is considerably more expensive than the traditional lock and key and no doubt comes with its own bugs and regular software maintenance schedule.

At this point I’m not entirely convinced of the utility gained over a simple lock and key.

Perhaps, we pioneered wearable health technology.

Our MedicAlert bracelet reminds me of that simple lock and key, without the annoying bugs and software upgrades. At the heart of things, like the lock and key, MedicAlert services have been adopted the world over. And it’s what you don’t’ see – the improved mechanisms behind the bracelet that have taken our wearable health technology to the next level.

And there is even more to come. But I’ll save that for another blog posting.

To your good health,
- Robert

“Catching Kayla”

Recently I happened upon a short documentary about a teenage girl named Kayla. It brought tears to my eyes in only a few minutes. Rather than retell Kayla’s story, please watch the clip here:

While often very exciting, cheering from the sidelines is not where every sports enthusiast wants to find themselves. Kayla’s story acts as a reminder of the many MedicAlert member stories that I have come across, where competitors, both young and older, are constantly pushing their own physical boundaries and participating in demanding physical events. It’s especially inspiring to see a marathon runner or any endurance athlete refuse to let a medical condition limit their dream, always wearing their Medical ID bracelet – often commenting that they feel safer knowing on-site paramedics, race officials and emergency responders are trained to look for a MedicAlert ID, and in the rare event of an emergency, appropriately respond.

It is both a reminder of how fragile life can be and how incredibly powerful the human spirit is. Everyone will experience a personal challenge at some point in his or her life. It is what happens next that really counts.

To your good health,
- Robert

Your Personal D.R.P.

Most organizations have a disaster recovery plan (D.R.P.) in place.  In its simplest form,  a DRP considers what could go wrong in the operation of the organization and determines what should happen. For example, if a fire destroys our office, how do we carry on?   Despite its name, disaster planning is less about the fires, floods and earthquakes that happen infrequently (thankfully!) and more about the planning for events like power outages that can be very disruptive.

Have you considered establishing your own personal DRP?  In the event that you could not function normally what would still need to take place to avoid undue disruption?

Imagine yourself temporarily incapacitated.  What still needs
to happen?

  • Is your medical and other critical personal information up to date and accessible?
  • Do your loved ones know where this information is and how to access it?
  • Are your emergency contacts on your MedicAlert file accurate?
  • Who else would you want to be notified in an emergency?
  • Do you have any pets that would require care?
  • Bills to be paid?
  • Have you thought about how key information such as passwords might be conveyed to trusted loved ones in an emergency?

While some find this type of planning unpleasant it does pay off in terms of reduced anxiety and worry down the road.  Everyone one of us will experience a disruptive live event at one time or another.  Think it through in advance and be prepared.

‘Sod’ 70

I recently had the privilege of attending a public talk on health aging, sponsored by MedicAlert Foundation Canada at the McMaster Health Forum in Hamilton.


The keynote speaker, Sir Muir Gray, a leading authority on health aging, spoke about today’s most common misconceptions about aging, especially the belief that those 70+ can do little to improve their health.  Having turned 70 this year, Sir Gray offered his own insightful observations along with scientific evidence that looked at how:

  • Biological aging has little effect until a person is in their 90’s.  Much of what we call ‘aging’ is a result of lifestyle choices;
  • Those aged 70 and older are still able to increase strength, stamina, flexibility and skills and there is substantial benefit to doing so; and
  • Even at age 70, there is much that can be done to prevent and postpone common diseases

Sir Gray also drove home the point that people must play a direct and substantial role in their own healthcare.  A really interesting exchange with an audience member closed the evening.  This attendee indicated that he was comfortable with his GP directing his healthcare – he didn’t have the time, interest or inclination and wanted to know if that decision was okay.  Sir Gray with his typical English directness said that if he was very lucky he might receive good quality care; otherwise direct engagement  — asking questions, researching treatment options and using ones own judgment — was essential in order to receiving high quality care.

This event’s topic and the audience’s keen interest in Sir Gray’s study really spoke to me about the importance of being one’s own health advocate.

If you are interested in learning more about at the work of the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative, a program of the McMaster Health Forum, please see:

To your good health,
- Robert

Has your key medical information recently changed? Ensure that in an emergency, your first responders will have the information they need when it really matters. Continue your own healthcare advocacy by updating your MedicAlert medical profile at 1-800-668-1507.