Any caregiver in charge of an elderly patient or loved one knows how difficult it can be to ensure their safety and the thoroughness of their care on a 24/7 basis. It’s simply not possible to be with them at all times, as other concerns such as household chores, food preparation, and self-care must also be attended to.

This is why the presence of room monitors can prove to be a real lifesaver for anyone in this situation: Caregivers can still, in effect, have a pair of ears or even eyes in the room with their charge while they attend to other tasks around the home. In most cases, a simple baby monitor will do the trick. If you’ve been considering keeping such a monitor in your home for the peace of mind it can lend you, here are three products for you to consider:

Image used under Creative Commons from Borya

Room Monitors for Elderly

VTech DM221-2 Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor

PROS

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Versatile
  • Up to 1,000 feet of range
  • Multi-level sound indicator

CONS

  • Not as durable as other monitoring units

This product comes with either one or two “parent” units, depending upon your needs. It may be helpful to have a monitor in more than one room of the house. This way, you don’t have to carry the monitor with you. This setup works great too if you have several caregivers. A 2-way talk intercom allows you to speak to your charge and assure them that you’re on the way, should they need assistance. Communication via the DM221-2 is easy, the controls are simple. The elderly will have no trouble operating the device.

Customers appreciate the sound quality on this model and the fact that interference from outside sources doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. They do, however, complain about battery life. Some users say a single charge lasts only for 6 to 8 hours. This could be problematic for nighttime monitoring. But as long as you charge the units every day, you won’t have any problem with the battery life.

The overall design of the DM221-2 feels sturdy and looks compact. It’s lighter than some baby monitors but the weight does not affect its performance. That said, some users have an issue with the product’s longevity. Some say the units kept beeping for no reason while others say theirs ceased to work completely or not at all. These issues seem to occur after a year or so of use. We didn’t come across these issues but these are something worth noting when considering this product.

The single-unit version retails for around $30, while the version with two parent units runs around $60. But despite the VTech’s longevity issues, one user say all 3 units he bought 2 years ago are still working perfectly:

I recommend the VTech (I’ve only had it a few weeks, but it is by far the winner in performance AND value). It’s a fabulous unit and has been working excellent for our family.

The VTech DM221-2 makes an excellent monitor for the elderly. It offers two-way communication. This allows caregivers to talk to their patients. The product comes with great features and a long battery life.
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Infant Optics DXR-5 2.4 GHz Digital Video Baby Monitor with Night Vision

PROS

  • Automatic IR night vision
  • Feature-packed
  • Smooth video playback
  • Data encryption for security
  • Excellent quality

CONS

  • Not as noise sensitive as other monitoring units

Yes, baby monitors have come a long way and now allow for video display as well. This is a great option for anyone whose patient or charge is not vocal due to a stroke or other ailment that has affected their speech.

This baby monitor is compact and slim so it’s easy to track patients anywhere in the home. The large and bright TFT LCD screen ensures effective monitoring 24/7. And speaking of monitoring, the unit boasts of 150-foot indoor range and 800-foot outdoor reception range. That means you are always connected with your loved ones wherever you are in the house.

This unit uses Automatic Frequency Hopping. This technology virtually encrypts the data being sent to the monitor. In other words, no need to worry about an outsider being able to view what you’re seeing. Night vision makes it possible for you to keep an eye on the room even when it’s dark. And the automatic voice activation power saving mode means that the monitor shuts down if no noise is sensed for three minutes.

Customers love the picture quality offered by this unit, consider it quite durable and call it an overall great value for the money.

Although generally deemed as durable, some consider it to be a bit too lightweight and would prefer a more sturdy feeling unit. And while the noise sensor doesn’t pick up on outside noises – it can be a little too under-sensitive and miss movement noises within the room. The unit doesn’t light up to alert the caregiver, which could be problematic to some. For one Amazon user, this product is worth every penny:

This monitor is the greatest and it is SO DURABLE! Easy to mount, easy to use, virtually no setup required. This monitor is a DREAM!

Bottomline: This is a well-priced baby monitor with advanced features for caregivers. The wireless transmission is smooth and secured. The overall design is compact and lightweight while the signal range is one of the best for the price.
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Motorola MBP26 Wireless Video Baby Monitor

PROS

  • 2.4-inch Touch Screen LCD
  • 2.4 Ghz Wireless Technology
  • Infrared vision
  • Long transmit range

CONS

  • Grainy night vision images

The Motorola MBP26 is a set of wireless baby monitor with a large 2.4″ LCD color display. The set includes a parent unit or monitor and a baby unit or camera. From the parent unit, you can pan or tilt the camera at any angle. The color LCD display provides clear, crisp videos for easy monitoring.

The set boasts of 2.4GHz FHSS technology that provides a reliable wireless connection. Although this device is designed for monitoring babies, it can be used to track the elderly too! The MBP26 features infrared vision that makes monitoring easy in dim rooms. It also offers a wider range of 520 feet for better monitoring and excellent audio quality. The MBP26 is also equipped with an out-of-range warning, enabling you to move around your home while tracking your patient at the same time.

This baby monitor comes with a rechargeable battery. When the battery is low, you’ll get a low battery alert. If you’d like to cover more ground, the parent unit can be paired with up to 4 baby units. The overall design and construction of the Motorola MBP26 is impressive, it’s lightweight but durable. However, the night vision yields grainy or blurry images. Some users say the screen gets very dark due to the fuzzy images captured by the night vision feature. This baby monitor shines as an elderly monitor. One user loved the added features of the MBP26, particularly the screen resolution and talk back feature:

We recently moved my Father-in-law, who has Dementia and Parkinson’s, in with us and purchased this video monitor for his bedroom. It’s a good deal for the money. The Infrared Night Vision allows you see video even if the room is dark, the image is in black/white all the time, not color as the photo leads you to believe, but that’s not an issue for us. And, I really like the “talk back” feature, it works like a Walkie-Talkie, and it’s great for telling him to stay put until we get there to help him, and prevent a fall.

The Motorola MBP26 is a dependable monitor for the elderly. The combination of night vision and large color display lets you track your loved ones with ease. The wider signal range means you can monitor your patients anywhere in the home.
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Foscam FBM3501 Wireless Digital Video Baby Monitor

PROS

  • Talkback feature
  • Up to 980 feet of range
  • IR LED night vision
  • Temperature and feeding time timer
  • Rechargeable battery

CONS

  • Short battery life
  • Connectivity issues

This unit, which includes pan/tilt/zoom, night vision, and two-way audio, seems to encompass just about everything a caregiver could need in terms of monitoring when they’re out of a room. The 3.5 inch LCD battery operated monitor automatically switches on and off and is portable up to 980 feet away.

The monitor is lightweight but solidly constructed, which according to customers makes it easy to carry around. Customers also like the fact that the camera moves nearly 360 degrees, and that the picture is very crisp even when night vision is enabled.

However, battery life seems to be a problem so it needs to be charged frequently. Some customers even complain that once you’ve set the unit to charge, it has to be checked periodically to ensure that everything’s connected or else you may only think you’re charging – while the cord isn’t fully connected. This monitor retails for around $120.

Don’t let the concerns of being a caregiver leave you limited to just one room of your home at a time. As you can see, technology has made it possible for caregivers to be much more mobile, while giving them the peace of mind that comes with knowing their charge is still well looked after. Thanks to its solid built and intuitive features, this Amazon reviewer loved the Foscam FBM3501:

This is hands down the best deal for a baby monitor and these guys know webcams. This baby monitor was our 3rd Foscam and we’re very happy with it. From the night vision to the temperature monitor and clarity. Only additional feature we could ask for is to make it WiFi accessible as well.

If you’re after value for your money, the Foscam FBM3501 is your best bet. It offers a variety of useful features on top of the high signal range and color display.
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Role Reversal: Caring for Aging Parents

No one likes to think about his or her parents’ last days but at some point, you have to make long-term care and retirement plans for your aging parents. One day your parents are fine and the next, they are unable to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, 75% of adults are not open to the idea of discussing long-term care with their family members.

If you’re tasked to care for your aging parents, dealing with the situation can be difficult if you are new to caregiving. It’s worse if you’re not getting the help and support you need from your siblings. To make the transition easier for you and your parents, consider these tips:

Communicate
Open the lines of communication and face the situation well in advance, as a family. This helps regardless if you or a sibling has been nominated to take care of mom and dad,

Certain choices and decisions have to be made when a primary caregiver takes over. As such, sit everyone down and talk about the care giving and living arrangements with your family to avoid conflict. Do not treat the situation as a crisis, rather, as just another family discussion that needs to be ironed out. This way, you can care for your elderly parents without causing friction.

Apart from talking to your family members, talk to mom and dad about long-term care. Do this when your parents are at their prime, aged 60 to 70 years old. Explain how long-term care will be handled, who to reach out to at a certain point, and other arrangements they need to know.

Offer Support
If a sibling has been nominated to be the primary caregiver, don’t hesitate to offer your support, directly or indirectly. Offering to complete the paperwork helps ease the frustration of caring for the elderly. Offer finance management assistance or be there for emotional support whenever needed. Long-term caregiving will incur health costs especially if the elderly is disabled. So now is the best time to learn more about your financial situation. This goes especially if you’re the primary caregiver. Talk to a financial planner and understand your finances.

Take Care of Your Parents’ Needs
As a primary caregiver, you’ll handle certain decisions but never lose sight of your parents’ wishes and needs. Instead of giving orders, provide options. Be there for assistance and offer the right kind of care. You must give your parents free rein in terms of how they run their lives. Leave them to decide about their own care and situation as long as they don’t endanger themselves or others.

Care and Housing Options
Your parents may be independent now but one day, they will require 24/7 care. If your aging parents can live on their own safely and they don’t need round the clock medical care, opt for an assisted living community? If your parents require a high level of medical care, then a nursing home is your best bet. If your parents need daily assistance, go for home care services. Learn what types of long-term solution are offered in your local area. Discuss the details with your family members before making a decision. Choose the care solution that suits your parents’ health, needs, and your resources.

Sort Out the Family Finances
Long-term care is not covered by regular health insurance and government medical assistance. And caring for the elderly is expensive, no matter how much cost-cutting you do. To ease the costs of caring for your aging parents, sort out the family finances and tap into your parents’ retirement funds if there’s any. You can also use your own savings or purchase a long-term care (LTC) insurance to reduce future health care costs. Ask your siblings and parents’ advice so splitting the cost is much easier.