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Bed alarms for the elderly and dementia patients are devices that can detect the patient's movements and sound an alarm if he/she tries to get up from the bed on their own.
As a caregiver, it is your responsibility to take care of patients who are advanced in age and/or are suffering from dementia. This job usually consists of constant monitoring of your patients, and that alone can lead to stress or burnout for you.
Therefore, devices such as bed alarms provide significant help to caregivers because it means that you do not have to suffer sleepless nights, sit by your patient's bed all the time, or stand outside the bedroom any longer. It also means allowing you to do other important tasks, have your own rest, or have some quality time by yourself while the patient is asleep.
Bed alarms are not only used in hospitals and nursing homes; they can also be used in your own home. If you're living with a senior loved one, installing a bed alarm will be a great help. Selecting the right kind of a bed alarm is the key to providing better health care solutions as well as more flexibility on the part of the caretaker.
The basic purpose of a bed alarm is to alert the caretaker when the patient is trying to get out of bed (or does get out of bed).
Benefits and advantages of using a bed alarm:
1) It prevents falls and injuries
Falls are one of the most feared things to happen if you're taking care of a senior or a patient suffering from dementia. As people age or as their dementia advances, the risk of falling increases significantly. A bed alarm can alert you when someone needs your assistance. With the help of a bed alarm, it allows you to get there in time to provide help.
2) It prevents the instance of wandering
This "wandering" behavior happens to people who are suffering from dementia. They may try to get out of bed and leave the home or facility they live in, either intentionally or accidentally (because they think they become lost and look for their way home). A bed alarm helps prevent this incident from happening by sounding an alarm the moment the person gets up so that you can stop your patient or your loved one from wandering.
3) It offers more flexibility for the caretakers
As implied again, being a caretaker is a job that requires constant monitoring on their patients (or their loved ones). However, you will also need time to rest, do other important tasks, and give your patient his/her time alone while he/she is resting. Having a bed alarm means you do not have to sleep with one eye open, sit by your patient's bed all day long, or stand outside the bedroom throughout the evening. You can be assured that you know when your help is needed.
It's recommended that you should use the wireless option because it can be more convenient to use. Apart from that, you don't have to sacrifice your independence too much to take care of your patient or a loved one.
Types of bed alarms:
1) Mattress pad alarm
This type of bed alarm is placed under the bedsheet. When it detects changes in weight and pressure, it sounds an alarm. The sounds stop once the weight returns or the settings are adjusted manually. Mattress bed alarms are available in both wired and wireless. The good thing about this device is that the alarm can be installed in another room so that the patient won't be startled when the alarm sounds. The volume can also be adjusted to comfortable levels.
2) String alarm
This type of bed alarm consists of a box-shaped unit with a string attached to it. The string is clipped on the patient's clothing, usually around the shoulder seam. The box is usually mounted on the headboard of the bed. Once the patient starts to make movements while on the bed, the string pulls loose, and this causes it to sound an alarm.
3) Passive infrared alarm
This type of alarm affixes to the headboard or the side of the bed, which allows the patient to move more freely within the bed. If the patient tries to get up, the infrared beam senses motion and sounds an alarm (or sometimes a chime tone).
All these bed alarm types work quite effectively on their own. However, the only disadvantage of using these bed alarms is that they can result in false alarms, e.g., when a patient tries to find a more comfortable position on the bed, and this sets the alarm off.
With a variety of bed alarms available, deciding on the right type can be too confusing. Therefore, considering your own and your patient's needs, as well as the surrounding conditions you're in, should be the key factors in choosing the type of a bed alarm that works best for you.