Backed by a one-year warranty, Smart Caregiver’s wireless system is an affordable option for home use with plenty of practical features. The bed sensor pad is made with soft vinyl, which is comfortable and easy to wipe clean; it’s incontinence resistant, and the electronics are accurate enough to prevent false alarms. The included monitor has multiple alarm volume settings and is powered by three C-cell batteries for added portability.
The pad is powered by a non-removable lithium battery, which is engineered to last for one year; at the end of that timeframe, the manufacture suggests you replace the pad. It’s also less accurate when used with non-traditional mattresses (for instance, TempurPedic or memory foam). Still, given the system’s accuracy and relatively low cost, this is an excellent option for the vast majority of caregivers.
The FallGuard bed pad is similar to the previous SmartGuard pad on this list, but without the wireless functionality. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—while the monitor alarm needs to stay in the same room as the patient, it’s quicker at detecting changes than the wireless option. As soon as the patient sits up, the alarm will trigger, providing a gentle chime to alert caregivers. The chime volume is adjustable, and there’s a low-battery indicator for added peace of mind.
This is an inexpensive weight-sensing system, and while it’s not quite as convenient as a wireless bed pad, it’s a competent option for preventing older adults from getting up without assistance. The soft vinyl bed pad is incontinence resistant and easy to wipe clean.
This wired bed exit alarm has a great price point for both homes and healthcare facilities. It features high-quality components, including a tamper-resistant alarm with an included Velcro holder. The ultra-thin bed pad is antimicrobial and free from latex, and it can be safely folded for easier storage.
The alarm is loud—really loud—and unfortunately, there’s no on/off switch or volume control. Granted, you want an alarm that you’ll actually hear, so that’s a minor point of concern. The alarm turns off again when it detects pressure, and the caregiver can reset it manually by holding the reset button for three seconds.
Syrtenty’s wired fall prevention set includes two pads and a monitor. The alarm either triggers a loud chime or the tune of “It’s A Small World,” which is an unnecessary (but pleasant) option. There’s also a volume control, and at the loudest setting, the alarm tone is loud enough to hear throughout a small house.
The bed sensor pad is one of the most sensitive options on this list, so it could potentially be an annoyance for a client or loved one that rolls around a lot in their sleep.
Two sensor pads are included; one for chairs and one for a bed.
Unlike the other products on this list, this weight sensor sounds an alarm when it detects pressure—not when it stops detecting pressure.
The monitor has a status light, variable tone options, and an included protective case. The pad is made from moisture-sealed vinyl, and its sensors are accurate enough for lightweight patients. Smart Caregiver provides a one-year warranty, and while this isn’t a traditional bed alarm system, it’s a practical alternative for caregivers who have had issues with false alarms from bed sensors.
Vive offers an array of movement alarms that can be configured to work with a single wireless alarm pager. That means that you’ll have to purchase this bed alarm and the alarm pager separately, but if you’re thinking about pairing a bed sensor with a floor sensor, chair sensor, or another bed sensor, this provides a simple way to keep all of your devices within the same system.
The bed sensor pad is soft, waterproof, and sensitive enough to use under light blankets or sheets. Its wireless transmitter allows custom delay settings, which helps to prevent false alarms; add up to four seconds of delay to adjust the alarm sensitivity as needed.
A good bed sensor will alert caregivers when weight shifts, whether that’s from an older adult waking in the middle of the night or a fall from the mattress. Beyond that, though, there are a range of features and options to choose from. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a weight-sensing bed product:
With wired systems, the alarm monitor needs to remain in the room with the patient. As alarms are typically loud—and some don’t have adjustable volume controls—caregivers will need to consider whether or not this is appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Some patients may also purposely disable their alarm monitors, preventing the system from operating properly.
Wireless receivers are an effective alternative, but they have a few drawbacks. Even well-made wireless systems aren’t capable of working instantaneously, so caregivers may not receive an alert until after a patient leaves their bed. They will usually cost more than their wired counterpart as well.
Weight-sensing bed systems work by alerting caretakers when a patient’s weight shifts significantly. Pressure on the pad drops, triggering the alert. Floor sensors work in the opposite way; when the sensor detects pressure, it sends an alert.
Floor sensors are less prone to false alarms from patients or loved ones simply adjusting themselves in bed, but they only alert the caregiver when the patient is already standing (or attempting to stand). As such, caretakers should evaluate their patients’ fall risks when choosing between these systems. Patients with high fall risks may be better served by bed sensors, even if that means occasional false alarms.
Likewise, if the intent of the system is simply to alert the caretaker when the patient is mobile (for instance, if the patient has dementia but is fairly able-bodied), a floor pad can be a better choice. For some older adults with especially high fall risks, caretakers might want to combine bed sensors with floor pad sensors and other alert technologies.
Sensor pads provide an important function, so they need to be replaced when their functionality is inhibited. Most manufacturers offer warranty sensor pads for one year; past this point, the products may become less sensitive, or they may not have sufficient battery power to operate as intended.
Keep this in mind when choosing an alert system. You’ll probably have to replace the sensor pad if you’re using the system for more than a year, but you don’t necessarily have to replace the alarm monitor. If you’re planning on long-term use, make sure that you can actually purchase the sensor pad separately from the rest of the system.
Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to follow the setup directions precisely. Test the system regularly to ensure that it functions as intended. When used properly, bed alert systems with weight sensors can be extraordinarily useful, but they require the same high level of care as any other medical appliance.