If you have any other responsibilities, like a job, home or family, you will not be able to monitor your loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When your loved one wishes to remain in their home even though there is a risk of falls, a good compromise may be using an in-home monitoring system. This option provides a sense of safety and security to caregivers who are separated from their loved ones for periods of time.
A common monitor is a falls alert pendant or wrist device. Some will require the user to push a button to access help, but there are also models that will automatically send a call for help if a fall is detected by a sensor in the device. Continuing Care offers a Personal Alert Assistance Program to help offset the cost of this type of device.
There are a wide variety of other helpful aids to ensure safety when you can’t be there:
- Automatic medication dispensers allocate the right medication in the right dosage at the right time, 24/7.
- Stove monitors automatically shut the stove off if it is left on for a long period, or it can lock the stove from being used at all.
- Bed alarms can be programmed to make an alert call if a loved one has gotten out of bed; some models will alert you if they have left their bed for more than 5 or 10 minutes if, for example, they are able to manage their own toileting but you are concerned that they may wander.
- Door alarms will alert you if a door, interior or exterior, has been opened.
- Flood sensors will activate when moisture is detected on the bathroom or kitchen floor, alerting you to a possible sink, tub or toilet overflow.
- Temperature sensors will alert you if the temperature in a room reaches an extreme, whether hot or cold.
- Motion sensors will alert you if there is movement in a particular room.
In extreme cases, you may consider the use of a video surveillance system to monitor your loved one’s well being. We caution you to give this serious thought and weigh the safety of your loved one against their right to autonomy and privacy.
For more information on providers of monitoring devices and services, please see the listing on the CNS website.
Your loved one may long for simpler times when the caregiver would be a constant presence. In the past few decades, work demands and the physical and emotional needs of families have changed significantly. Most families cannot survive financially without all adults engaged in paid work and caregivers are often faced with supporting and managing two homes – their own and that of their care recipient – while working and raising children.
The Working Family Caregiver: Tips for Balancing Caregiving and Career and A Guide to Balancing Work and Caregiving Obligations may help you look at your work situation more objectively in terms of what are reasonable expectations and accommodations.
No one has a right to make you feel guilty that you are not available all the time. You cannot control everything, even if you are in the next room. These two resources, 5 Ways to Keep Guilt from Stressing You Out and Guilt vs Shame, may help you sort through your feelings.