An estimated 34 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers for other adults, including elderly family members. As healthcare costs rise and many baby boomers find themselves sandwiched between the care of their children and their parents, it becomes more important for them to find ways to balance time and resources.
Patient alarms are one method that caregivers can use to monitor their elderly patients while simultaneously working on other tasks. These alarms emit noises or other methods of notification when activated by the elderly patient for any number of reasons, in any location. Often used in patient care homes by nurses who manage multiple patients, patient alarms have evolved significantly over the years to make them user-friendly and affordable for in-home use, as well. Patient alarms can be acquired to accommodate a number of scenarios that pose a risk for elderly patients. Alarms can be placed around the house or affixed to patients to help them alert someone when they have fallen or otherwise require assistance. Bathroom alarms can notify caregivers when accidents have occurred or help is needed to complete tasks. Wheel chair alarms can go off when problems or accidents have occurred, sometimes even without the help of the operator. There are even alarms for bed wetting to prevent patients from being exposed to uncomfortable, unsanitary bedding for prolonged periods of time.
Patient alarms aren’t just a way to keep tabs on an elderly patient. When used correctly and consistently, they are can actually be a powerful life-saving device. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified falls as the leading cause of death for Americans 65 years of age and older. In addition, they report that 35-40% of people in this age group suffer from falls each year, and that the rate of deaths caused by falls has been on an incline over the last decade. Since many falls cause bruises, fractures and head trauma, it is clear to see how these medical conditions can take their toll on the health of an elderly loved one, as well as become a costly expense.
Elderly patient alarms can also be an important measure for avoiding accusations of elderly abuse or neglect, a charge that is considered to be a misdemeanor in most states. Since many families and nursing homes have full schedules and workloads, some elderly patients may not receive prompt attention they need through routine check-in’s. Patient alarms can help family and caregivers to become aware when emergent conditions arise, and can also help them to prioritize their elderly patients within the context of their day. A variety of new conditions emerge as people age, many of which are gradual and unexpected for caregivers. As people age, they can suffer from any or all of the following:
- Burns or injuries due to weakness
- Misuse of medication
- Deterioration of personal habits and hygiene
- Increased care accidents
- General forgetfulness and disorientation
- Small fires from forgotten appliances, candles, etc.
- Sudden weight loss
- Unexplainable behavior
While a patient alarm cannot help with all of the circumstances surrounding elderly care, it can provide the following:
- Gives elderly patients the opportunity to call for assistance when handling heavy or dangerous items.
- Notifies caregivers when elderly patients need attention to help with hygiene or similar personal care.
- Reminds caregivers to administer medication, removing the risk of under or over-dosing by elderly patients.
- Notifies caregivers in the event of a fall or accident.
- Notifies caregivers when smoke or other hazards are present.
Vitality Medical offers a variety of patient care alarms to help caregivers better monitor their elderly patients. Some of their patient alarms include:
Bathroom Alarms: Bathroom alarms are a simple, non-invasive way for caregivers to monitor elderly patients while they are using the restroom. A door alram or room alarm provides cargivers with warning when a patient is up and about in their room or attempts to leave their room. The FallGuard Alarm is a reasonably priced method for professional and at-home caregivers to monitor their elderly patient’s movements while they are busy with another task. A sensory mat is placed under the chair or bed, and when the patient gets up, the caregiver is notified of the movement so that they can check on the patient and provide assistance if needed, helping to prevent falls.
Bed Wetting Alarms: A bed wetting alarm is used to warn the patient of impending urination in bed. The Nite Train’r DVC Bedwetting Alarm, features a moisture-sensing device that alerts patients when leakage has occurred. This then gives them the opportunity to use the restroom before a more significant accident occurs, thereby saving them from embarrassment and discomfort.
Personal alarms: The most versatile of patient alarms, the personal alarm gives patients a device to carry with them throughout their day so that they can receive needed attention regardless of their location. A Wander Alarm is also useful to notify caregivers when a patient is straying from a safe areas and may be headed for danger. The Smart Caregiver Personal Alarm gives patients a paging device with a lanyard that can be worn comfortably around the neck, and features 100 feet reception and a single over-sized button.
Wheelchair Alarms: Wheelchair alarms can perform double duty as a fall-prevention and tip-detection mechanism. The Wheelchair Alarm System also gives added comfort to wheelchairs while its pressure sensor alerts caregivers when the patient’s weight is lifted from the chair seat. This helps to prevent falls by alerting caregivers to the need to monitor wheelchair-bound patients who are trying to stand up or exit the seat for any reason, and it also alerts caregivers if the wheelchair has tipped and the patient has fallen from the chair.
Caring for an elderly patient can be a full-time endeavor full of unique and challenging circumstances. However, a wide variety of patient alarms are available for professional and at-home caregivers to ensure that their elderly patients receive the attention they need to stay comfortable and safe. If you are in a position to provide care and attention to an elderly patient, educate yourself on the risks and symptoms associated with aging and equip your space with patient alarms to help prevent unexpected accidents from occurring.