Sunday, August 30, 2009

Baby monitors for seniors

When I first moved in with my mother, she was having such trouble walking that she moved from her room to the guestroom, and I moved into the den right next door to her. That way she could always call out for assistance during the night and I could get to her fast enough to avoid any accidents, of any sort. It was reassuring for me to know she could call me. Finally though, she got strong enough, both physically and mentally, to want to return to her own room. It was a great step towards more independence but it did mean that I could no longer be sure to hear her and help her. As she was walking so much better though, I wasn't too concerned.

Several months later, I was wakened very early by her shouts. I found her on the floor, incapable of using her legs properly. She had had to drag herself to the livingroom to call me. She, of course, had no recollection of how nor even where she had fallen. She spent three weeks in the hospital and rehabilitation center where I stayed with her to calm her fears and bewilderment. Sleeping next to her gave me such reassurance that I realized that I would have to find a solution for home. I certainly didn't want to move into her room with her. I went back to the Web to find a solution for seniors.

There are several intercom or walkie-talkie type systems available. It would require, however, that my mother remember to use it which she wouldn't because she wouldn't remember that it was there or what it was. I settled on a baby security monitor. It was an excellent, inexpensive solution to my problem. I didn't even have to take the video option since snoring old ladies are hardly as cute as little baby. I have it on all day and the range is so good that I can even hear her go into the kitchen to make herself a coffee (of course she DOES shuffle her feet quite a bit). As I spend quite a bit of time in my room at the computer, the monitor allows me to know when she is sleeping or awake and pottering around in her room. That, in turn, allows me to know when would be a good time to propose an activity liking folding the laundry, going to get the mail or go out for groceries.

I know that a real "for seniors" system with two-way communication can be invaluable in the care of an invalid, just for the peace of mind and reassurance that it can give both parties, as well as sparing the caregiver all sorts of trips back and forth to the invalid's room. In the case of dementia though, I am sure that it could only bring confusion, at least initially to the demented, then perhaps aggravation to the caregiver when the patient, finally or maybe, figures out how it works and demands a response at any or all moments.

I have told my mother often that she need only call me and I will come; but since I don't want to emphasize the presence of the monitor, and have hidden it behind her curtains, when she wants me, she comes all the way to my room. That's great! This is a big house and since she refuses to go to physical therapy, this is a good way for her to get some exercise!

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