Some of the important traits of a caregiver include physical and mental strength, patience and a sunny disposition. Aside from those characteristics, a caregiver should also be willing to make sacrifices to make their loved ones as safe and comfortable as possible.
However, a caregiver is also human – if you are working as a caregiver right now, there comes a time when you need something to give you some relief from the arduous day-to-day tasks. You deserve to take a break, too. Any device or tool that can make your life easier will be well worth the cost. Bed alarms are among the most popular options which you and your elderly patient will see the most benefit.
A bed alarm’s primary function is to alert the caregiver when the patient tries to get up from the bed. It is an excellent way to prevent falls and wandering. Any good-quality bed alarm system makes a great investment. You will be able to monitor your patient more confidently, and the alert helps you to respond immediately if the patient unexpectedly attempts to get out of bed or is no longer in bed.
This article highlights the features and benefits to help you find the best bed alarm products for your elderly patient.
Bed alarm features
The essential features of a bed alarm consist of the following:
- A sensing device such as a pressure sensor pad, floor mat, string, or an infrared signal that detects when the patient is no longer in bed.
- An alarm monitor that alerts the caregiver once the sensing device detects any movement.
Bed alarm systems may vary depending on:
- The type of power source (corded/wired or cordless/wireless)
- The type of sensing device
- The alarm’s noise level
- Availability of additional or optional features such as pagers and nurse call buttons
Choosing the right bed alarm may be based on several factors: your senior patient’s health, his or her sensitivity to noise, tactile stimuli, and your own needs as a caregiver.
How to find the right bed alarm system?
To buy the right alarm system, you should consider the following helpful information:
Types of bed alarm sensors
- Pressure sensor pads – They are placed beneath the lower bedsheet, usually at the back or buttock area. Pressure sensor pads are designed to be thin to provide optimum comfort. They are available in different sizes to accommodate a patient’s weight and mattress types. For example, a 10×30 sensor pad is ideal for patients weighing 120 pounds and above and sleeping on a firm mattress. On the other hand, a 20×30 sensor pad is appropriate for a lighter patient sleeping on a hospital bed, a gel, memory foam, air or Tempur-Pedic mattress.
- Floor mat sensor pads – Floor mat sensor pads are usually placed beside the bed. Once the patient steps or falls out of bed, the floor mat sensor triggers the alarm monitor to send an alert to the caregiver, who will then arrive to help the patient.
- String alarms – String alarms usually consist of a lightweight cord, which comes with a clip that is attached to your patient’s clothing. Once the patient starts to move and detaches the string, the alarm sounds immediately. But since the cord detaches even from minimal movement, a string alarm may cause false alarms. Thus, this sensor may not be appropriate for active or restless patients.
- Infrared signals – The infrared sensor can be placed near the headboard or the bed frame. The sensor beams an infrared light. Once the patient interrupts the infrared light, it triggers the alarm monitor to sound, alerting the caregiver who will come immediately to the patient’s aid.
Corded or wireless?
- Corded – The sensing device connects directly to the alarm monitor, which is placed near the patient. When the patient starts to move, the alarm starts to sound immediately. Corded bed alarm systems are usually cheaper than their wireless counterparts. Nowadays, they are designed specifically to prevent the hazards of tangling or tripping.
- Wireless – The wireless bed alarm system sends an alert to notify the caregiver that the patient is no longer in bed. One of the conveniences of using this system is that you can place the battery-operated alarm monitor outside the patient’s room, usually up to 100 or 300 feet away from the patient’s bed. However, a wireless system is usually more expensive than corded types.
There are some systems that offer both corded and wireless types. In case of a power outage, the system can be converted into a wireless bed alarm system. If there’s battery drainage, the system can be turned into a corded system. These systems give you increased flexibility on where to place the alarm monitor.
- Alarm levels may vary depending on the type or brand, with several offering different noise levels (low, medium or high).
- Many bed alarms emit the conventional bleeping alarm sound, while some have a more pleasant chiming or musical option.
- Most wireless systems allow the alarm monitor in the patient’s room to be set to silent mode while sending an alert to the caregiver to another room or somewhere else.
Additional or optional features
- Pagers – Most pagers used for the bed alarm systems are wireless or battery-operated. They can be placed within 150 feet of the patient’s room, which allows caregivers to respond to the alarm sound once the sensors detect movement.
- Call buttons – Patients can use the call button to notify the caregiver when they need help.