Are you currently a primary caregiver for a family member? Do you know family and friends who have started taking care of aging loved ones?
If so, then you understand just how difficult caregiving can be. And you know that it’s not just the physical caregiver duties, but also the sheer amount of time and attention required that cause caregiver stress and ultimately caregiver burnout.
The good news is that there are a wide range of monitoring technologies which can really help caregivers find extra time and freedom in their day to day lives. And these days, monitoring solutions do not have to be costly or complicated--many products exist now which are both affordable and easy to use.
This post will go over some of the most popular monitoring solutions and how you can choose one best suited for your needs.
Almost a third of the family caregivers in the US spend as much time caregiving as a normal full time job would require—over 40 hours a week.1 And by definition, family caregivers are unpaid.
The end result is that family caregivers are often unable to make time for themselves to live their own healthy, fulfilled lives, which only further compounds the already stressful nature of caregiving.
As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, America will face its largest generation of aging seniors, and along with it, its largest generation of overworked and overstressed family caregivers. The number of family caregivers in the US is over 40 million and growing.2
So how can caregivers regain some control in their lives while still making sure their loved ones are safe and well-attended?
While hired professional home aides or nurses can provide much needed relief for many families, it is not always a feasible solution if a family cannot afford it or find the financial assistance to pay for it.
This is where monitoring technology comes in, providing a cost-effective solution to provide caregivers with more freedom and peace of mind.
Since the right monitoring solution depends on the caregiving situation, we will break down monitoring solutions into two main categories: in-home monitoring solutions, and remote monitoring solutions. Within each category we will discuss a few best options and when they would be appropriate.
In home monitoring
If you live with or spend a significant amount of time at home with the care recipient, then an in home monitoring solution might just be what you need.
The first solution you might consider is a simple caregiver alerting solution. With alert products, the care recipient either wears an alert button or has one easily accessible to them so that they can signal to the caregiver (who might be out of earshot) for assistance. When pressed, the alert button will signal to a receiver in another room to make an alert sound.
Alerting products are of course critical for emergencies: for example, a loved one who has fallen can signal for help with the press of a button. But even for regular day to day use, alerting technology can improve a caregiver's quality of life. Without an alerting product, caregivers often have to spend most of their time in the same room as the care recipient. But with an alerting product, caregivers can untether themselves from a loved one’s immediate side and have more freedom around the home to do what they need—prepare meals, take care of chores around the house, or even attend to personal needs and activities.
SadoTech has designed the SOS Doorbell as a reliable and inexpensive caregiver pager solution which can be set up in a minute and is simple to use. It has a wearable easy-squeeze button necklace, a wall-mountable button, and one plug-in receiver that will sound out loudly when either of the two transmitters are pressed.
In other situations, however, caregivers might want in-home monitoring that is more automated than a simple alerting solution. This is the case if your loved one might not be able to reliably use a button transmitter to alert for help all the time. For instance, care recipients who are prone to seizures or fainting might not be able to alert for help in an emergency.
If this is the case for you, a more appropriate choice is a passive monitoring solution that involve some sort of automated sensor technology.
For instance, bed alarms can signal when a care recipient gets up from or falls out of a bed. A sensor pad under the mattress detects a change in weight, so if a loved one gets up out of bed or falls out, the sensor pad sends a signal to a remote receiver that sounds an alert.
Or for care recipients who are prone to wandering, motion sensor alarms are very inexpensive these days and easy to use: simply install a motion sensor in a hallway and when someone walks by, it will trigger a sound alert from a remote receiver so caregivers know when a care recipient has gotten up to walk somewhere.
Out of home monitoring:
Of course, many caregivers are unable to spend all of their time in the same home as the care recipient. For such caregivers, there are two main options if they want to know if their loved ones are safe at any given moment.
The first is video monitoring. Video monitoring may require a bit more initial effort to set up, but the benefits can be well worth it. These days, there are many great security cameras with two-way audio.
You can install the cameras in whichever rooms you wanted to monitor, connect them to the internet, and then view the video feed from your computer or smartphone (these days products will come with their own smartphone or web apps you can use to view a camera feed). With two-way audio built in, you can also talk to your loved ones with a built-in microphone and speaker on the cameras.
Video monitoring can be a great way to check in on your loved ones periodically and make sure they’re doing ok as long as they are open to the idea of being watched remotely.
However, video monitoring might not be ideal for emergency situations if you are only able to look at the video feed occasionally. If you need a remote monitoring solution which can detect emergencies when they happen, then consider choosing an all-in-one medical alert service.
All-in-one medical alert services combine physical alert buttons and sensors with telephone operator support. One such example is Philips Lifeline, one of the most popular all-in-one medical alert services.
Caregivers purchase the physical home system which includes alert buttons with fall detection. Then, by paying a monthly subscription fee they get access to the Philips Response Center Network. When the care recipient has a fall or pushes the alert button, the home system makes a call to a telephone operator who can then call for medical help and notify family members. While more expensive than other solutions mentioned in this post, the all-in-one medical alert service can really give caregivers automated peace of mind when they have to be away from their loved ones.
Now that you know some of the options available to you to help reduce the demands of caregiving, we hope you will be able to free up more time to take care of yourself! By taking care of yourself, you will also benefit from reduced stress and higher energy levels, which we hope will allow you to continue the important work of taking care of your loved ones.