What You Need to Know

If you're caring for an older person, a bed alarm for fall prevention is a good investment. You'll be able to monitor your patient confidently, and the alert helps you respond quickly if your patient unexpectedly leaves the bed. 

Several brands and types of bed alarms for older adults are on the market. We've highlighted alarm system features and benefits to help you find the best bed alarm product for your elderly patient.

Bed Alarm Features

The components of a bed alarm system include the following:

  • a sensing device like a pressure sensor pad, floor mat, or string, or an infrared signal that detects when the patient is no longer in bed
  • an alarm monitor that alerts you if movement occurs

Elderly bed alarm systems vary based on:

  • the power source for the alarm: wireless vs. corded or hardwired
  • the sensing device
  • the noise level of the alarm
  • availability of additional features such as nurse call buttons and pagers

The system you choose depends on your elderly patient's health, his or her sensitivity to noise or tactile stimuli, and your needs as a caregiver.

Finding the Right Bed Alarm System

When you're evaluating elderly bed alarms, here's useful information to consider about the various features.

  • Wireless vs. Corded
    • A wireless system sends a signal to the alarm when your patient moves out of bed. You can place the battery-powered alarm monitor outside the patient's room, usually within 100 to 300 feet of the bed.
    • A corded alarm system usually costs less than a wireless one. The alarm monitor connects directly to the sensing device and is near the patient. When your patient moves, the alarm sounds with no delay. Many corded systems have a safety release to prevent tripping or tangling hazards.

Some systems offer both a battery and power cord, giving you more flexibility about where to place the alarm monitor.

  • Bed Alarm Sensors
    • Pressure sensor pads rest under the lower bedsheet near the back or buttocks of your patient.  Pads are thin to maximize comfort, and sizes are available to support different patient weights and mattress types. For example, a patient weighing 120 pounds or more and sleeping on a firm mattress would need a 10x30 sensor pad. A lighter person or one using a hospital bed, memory foam, gel, air, or Tempur-Pedic mattress would require a larger 20x30 pad.
    • Floor mat sensor pads placed near the bedside trigger the alarm monitor if your patient steps or falls out of bed. If your elderly patient has reasonable mobility, then a floor mat sensor can be a more discrete way to monitor activity.
    • String alarms run a lightweight cord from a monitor to a clip attached to your patient's clothing. When the patient moves and detaches the string, the alarm sounds. A string sensor is the most cost-effective bed alarm system. Since the cord detaches with minimal movement, however, this sensor isn't appropriate for active or restless sleepers.
    • Infrared signals offer patients the most freedom of movement within the bed. The alarm monitor triggers only if the patient interrupts the infrared beam, which you can set near the headboard or bed frame.
  • Noise Levels
    • Alarm levels will vary across brands and types, with many offering several sound levels such as low, medium, and high.
    • Some bed alarm systems have a chiming or musical option instead of a traditional beeping.
    • Wireless systems often have a feature allowing an alarm monitor in the patient's room to be set to 'silent' while sending an alert to a caregiver in another room.
  • Additional Features
    • Elderly bed alarm systems can include battery-operated wireless pagers. Pagers typically operate within 150 feet of the patient's room, allowing caregivers to respond to the alarm beep when sensors detect motion.
    • Some systems also include a call button that patients can use to notify a caregiver when they need help.


Connect with Kerr Medical for Information about Choosing a Bed Alarm System

We support home care and nursing home facilities with carefully sourced products that are made responsibly and with integrity.

For more information about products available for elderly patients living alone, including bed alarms, contact the Kerr Medical team.