This man with a 2-year history of very slowly progressing dementia had, until recently, been living contentedly at home with his wife. Unfortunately, he had been admitted to hospital with a serious chest infection which had required 5 weeks of treatment. His breathing is now much improved but there has been a definite deterioration in his confusion. He had previously been a little unsteady while walking and this is now markedly worse, although not to the stage of needing a wheelchair. His son lives around 3 miles way and drops in regularly but has work and family commitments of his own, which often take him abroad.
Although it is hoped that his problems will improve further as his physical recovery continues and that he will be more orientated in his home environment, his family remain worried about his safety. In particular, they are concerned, firstly, that he might fall and secondly, that he might wander into a dangerous situation. What equipment options might be available to help?
Simple measures can be taken such as removing trip hazards from around the house, making sure there is good lighting and ensuring that he has well-fitting shoes or slippers, like our Sandpiper range. He might benefit from a walking aid, for instance, a walking stick, walking frame or rollator. However, if there was still concern, he could be provided with a sensor device such as a ‘Falls Wrist-watch’, to allow him to call for help by pressing a button or, if the fall is more serious, it will automatically raise an alert if the user is not moving and therefore may be unconscious.
Sensory Alert Pager
This can be dangerous at any time but particularly in the dark at night when hazards may be less obvious and there is also less likely to be supervision. Historically, one approach might have been some form of constraint for instance by cot sides or by locking the room. However, apart from the ethical questions regarding loss of liberty, such constraints can cause distress as well as physical risks – for instance when the person attempts to clamber over the side of the cot rails. Therefore, we would not support this approach.
Good lighting and signposting (for instance, clearly labelling the toilet door) might help in some cases, but if confusion is more severe this may not be enough. Another option might be to provide extra supervision, for instance with 24-hour carers, however this could be extremely expensive and beyond the means of most people.
A far more cost-effective way of managing the problem might be with modern sensor technology. Our ‘Frequency Precision’ range includes a variety of different sensors which can be combined together according to the needs of the user and their carers. In this case an Airlert Bed Mat and Sensor could be set up to be triggered when he gets out of bed. One or more Motion Sensor (passive infrared) could be positioned around the house to create an alert if he strays into a dangerous area, these could be complemented by door or window sensors. As mentioned above he could wear a ‘Falls Wrist-watch’ which could notify the supervisor of a serious fall but would also allow him to press the ‘help button’ to call for help. The sensors could also be linked to his son’s mobile phone so he is notified of a problem even when abroad .
Airlert Bed Mat with Sensor
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