Strategy for Monitoring Elderly and Still Getting Your Sleep
Nightly monitoring elderly can be a challenge. As a caregiver of elderly parents, I can tell you things can go wrong in a heartbeat (pun intended). It’s best to be ready and aware of what’s happening with your loved one so you can respond quickly.
In all probability, you’re already aware of this. If fact, a good job description of being a caregiver is “constant supervision.” One of the main questions we ask ourselves when we are considering caregiving is: “Can I live/keep my life and supply the constant supervision necessary at the same time?” You should not take this question lightly.
Monitoring elderly means watching and listening, similar to the way a parent watches over her young children. We want to provide a safe environment for our children to grow. As caregivers, we seek an improved quality of life for our loved-ones. We do that by monitoring them, protecting them from fall hazards, providing nutrition, medicines, and other basic necessities.
But, every person is different. The level of observation required for each person is also different. Caregivers of mobile dementia patients can have a greater challenge of monitoring.
Consider These Questions:
- How aware is the senior of their needs and the dangers in their environment?
- Where are they when they are most likely to need assistance? Bedroom? Bathroom?
- Who is being asked to respond and what is their availability?
- How will the sleep needs of the caregiver, the senior, and other family members be affected by using this particular solution?
Take Care of Yourself
It’s a good thing to take care of your elderly loved-one. It’s a labor of love that is not uncommon in our society, but it does have its stressors. Predictably, we search for the easiest/best way to complete our many caregiving duties. For many caregivers, the job of caregiving is often too big for just one person. We need help with our caregiving duties and we also need to take good care of ourselves.
I bring this up about caring for yourself to make this point. Everyone needs a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep will impair your ability to be alert and to think clearly. It is hard to sleep soundly while monitoring elderly at the same time. But there are ways to manage it.
What Are My Options?
Available monitoring technology has rapidly increased over the last few years and continues to improve. You can find a solution that will work for different caregiving settings.
Caregiver and elder(s) living apart.
A monitoring service might be a good choice; this type of service is often called a Medical Alert System. These companies have been around for more than 40+ years and are frequently seen advertised on TV. Generally, the senior has a button that is pushed when the senior needs help. The button can be on a pendant or a wrist band or even mounted low on walls in strategic locations in case of a fall. Some of the buttons are motion-sensitive and can detect a fall.
These call buttons are part of a network linked to a base station which are then connected to a home phone line. When activated, the system will alert an operator at the company’s call center. They will then take the necessary action to get the help needed for the specific incident. 911 services will be contacted in the event of an emergency. However, the need may be something simple, like a locked door or a need for a ride. In that case, many companies will contact a predetermined person like a neighbor, or close-by relative to provide help.
There are several companies who perform these services, and most require a service contract. Take care when choosing the company. Some people have found themselves stuck in a long-term contract with a service they didn’t want. Consumer Reports has published an excellent article that will help you make an informed choice.
Caregiver and Elder(s) living together.
When a senior needs more daily “hands-on “care, the family may consider placing the loved-one in a care facility. Or, another option is for the senior and family members to live together. I believe that being a live-in caregiver can provide the best care and quality of life for the senior. For me, it was the right choice and I have no regrets.
Choices for Live-in Caregivers
The choices for live-in caregivers will vary somewhat with the senior’s level mobility and medical needs. You might not need any technology at all. My family and I cared for an elderly parent for years, and all that was needed was a simple, loud bell placed close by with a string attached. The bell was used anytime assistance was needed. This was an easy solution that served us well, day and night, for years.
Baby monitors are another option for monitoring elderly. The advancements made in their technology is impressive. There are a lot of features available in these monitors today. The features include video, audio, intercom, smart phone syncs, even night vision. There are also similar monitoring systems made especially for monitoring elderly that essentially do the same thing as baby monitors.
Our family used a baby monitor while caregiving for my mother. To be honest, I was not a fan of active monitoring during the night. Each time she would stir or cough I would wake up. I was worried that I might not awaken if she actually asked for help. My wife, on the other hand, did not seem to have this problem so I guess it’s different for different people.
Actually, a wireless doorbell worked best for us. You can find them at your local hardware store. The set-up is quite simple. There’s a button with a small battery inside. It syncs to a ringer unit which also runs on batteries. You can place each unit anywhere in the home you want. Ours had the option of a couple of different ringtones. When Mom needed help, it was easy to just push the button, the bell would ring, and help was on the way.
Find what Fits
I bet you were hoping I would give you a simple answer for monitoring elderly at night. Well, it’s just not that simple. There are really too many variables to have a “one-size-fits-all” answer. However, it doesn’t mean the answer is difficult to find. You will need to evaluate the situation, and find what fits your environment, the senior’s needs, and your ability to monitor and respond at night.
Wishing you all a good night!