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Expert Reviews – Wireless Door Monitors with Remote Caregiver Receiver Alert


What You Need to Know

Wireless electronic door monitors, some originally intended for home security use, may be helpful when a person you care for begins to leave home alone, raising the risk of wandering and getting lost. A door monitor is one way of providing a remote caregiver alert that an outside door has been opened. The remote unit may be either battery operated (for portability) or designed to plug into an electrical outlet.

This overview of door monitors is followed by Expert Reviews of two different products (see below).

How it Works

These monitors consist of 2 units:

1. The transmitter, mounted on the door and door frame with double-sided tape or screws (included with the products we tested). You need to make sure the door monitor transmitter and its side magnet are placed correctly (no more than 1/4 inch apart and properly lined up) or the product will not work.


Transmitter


Remote Caregiver Receiver Alert
2. The remote receiver, which provides an alert to the caregiver; this is plugged into a chosen location or carried with you, depending on the model.

When a monitored door is opened, the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver which provides an alert. Click here to view animation.

You can purchase extra door transmitters for areas of the home that may also need monitoring, like the basement stairs and the front and back doors. You can also use these monitors on a refrigerator door, medicine cabinet, or kitchen cabinet door.

Main differences among the models:
  • Volume control and type of alert
    • Chime
    • Alarm
    • Vibration
  • Transmission range from the door to your receiver (75 to 150 feet)
  • How the alert is turned off (automatically or manually at the door)
  • Plug-in or portable (battery-operated) receiver for caregiver alerts.
Benefits

An alert may allow you to get to the person’s side in time to accompany them outside or redirect the person from leaving home to another activity.

Drawbacks
  1. The transmission range (between the door and the receiver) may be lower than stated by the manufacturer, depending on
    • Wall thickness
    • Other environmental interferences

    Safety Wise! Be sure to test the limits before depending on the device.

  2. The alerts take one or two seconds to sound after the door has opened, depending on:
    • The model
    • The type of alert chosen.

    If the person is in a rush to get out the door, this type of alert may not give you enough advance notice.

  3. There are no low battery warnings on the door transmitter part and the batteries may need to be changed every few months, depending on use (see manufacturer’s instructions). You’ll need to check often to make sure the unit is working and not rely solely on this device to keep a person from wandering (or other unsafe activities).

GENERAL CAUTIONS

You may need to be at the person’s side before they’ve opened the door. You may want to use this product along others, e.g., high and/or low sliding locks or a standard chain lock installed high or low. A chain lock may give you more time to get to the door, as the alert will sound when the door is partially opened, but the chain lock must be removed before they can exit.

These systems are not fail-proof and may not always work (even with charged batteries), so use multiple strategies when trying to prevent falls or wandering. See our section on Wandering for more ideas.

Below you’ll find two door monitors that we’ve tested along with specific Pros and Cons for each product. We only tested products that offer a remote alert option, as alerts that only sound at the door can be upsetting to individuals with dementia.

You can also use motion sensors near the door to monitor the activity of the person you care for. See our reviews of motion sensors for use at the door, with either Portable Receivers or Voice Alerts.


Wireless Door Monitor - with Plug-In Caregiver Receiver Alert



Door Transmitter




Plug-In Caregiver Receiver Alert


MANUFACTURER
Carlon by Lamson Home Products

COST
$35 - $60 (depending on where it’s purchased)

$17 for additional door monitors or plug-in caregiver receivers

Tools Needed
Flat head screwdriver
Small Phillips head screwdriver

VENDORS
The Alzheimer's Store (Click on "Wandering" section)

DISCLAIMER
The listing of these products is for informational purposes and individuals must use their own caution and judgment when using these resources. Functional levels and changes in judgment and reasoning are highly variable in people with dementia. Interventions must be individualized and continually assessed because those that are effective for some individuals may only work briefly and may not work at all for others.

DESCRIPTION
This wireless door monitor system comes with a battery-operated door transmitter and a plug-in caregiver receiver for alerts (plugs into a standard wall outlet). The manufacturer claims that transmission range is 150 feet.

Battery is included and already installed in the transmitter.

PROS - Product Specific
Pleasant Chime. When set on CHIME and a monitored door is opened, the tone or melody you’ve chosen sounds for one to five seconds and then automatically shuts off. (There is also an alarm sound setting.)

Caregiver alert volume control - low and high (though the switch is not labeled on the alert device). Volume for chime and alarm provides comfortable (not deafening) tones.

You can purchase additional units (door transmitter or remote caregiver receiver) if you want additional coverage.

CONS - Product Specific
When set on Alarm, there is a two second delay for the alarm to sound, which may not be enough advance notice.

When set on the ALARM tone and a monitored door is opened, the remote caregiver receiver sounds an alarm for four minutes or it must be manually turned off at the door transmitter by switching the setting to the Chime position. Then you must switch it back to the alarm setting to continue using the alarm setting, as there is no on/off setting.

You may need several caregiver alerts in different locations to hear the alert, depending on the size of your home.

The plug-in caregiver receiver is for indoor use only. You can’t take it into the garden, for example. (Depending on environmental conditions, a battery- operated device may work outdoors.)

CAUTION
See General Cautions Above


Wireless Door Monitor with Battery-Operated Caregiver Receiver Alert



Wireless Door Monitor




Battery-Operated Caregiver Receiver


MANUFACTURER
Safeguard Marketing

COST
$40.00

VENDORS
Dynamic Living (Click on "Memory" Section)

DISCLAIMER
The listing of these products is for informational purposes and individuals must use their own caution and judgment when using these resources. Functional levels and changes in judgment and reasoning are highly variable in people with dementia. Interventions must be individualized and continually assessed because those that are effective for some individuals may only work briefly and may not work at all for others.

DESCRIPTION
This wireless door monitor system comes with a battery-operated door transmitter and a battery-operated caregiver receiver that clips onto a belt or waistband. The manufacturer claims that the transmission range is up to 100 feet. The alarm sounds for as long as the door is open and then automatically turns off. You can have up to three door monitors using one remote caregiver receiver in the same house, but the components are not sold separately; the monitor and the receiver are only sold as a package.

Batteries Needed
9V battery (not included)

PROS - Product Specific
Two alerts to choose from - vibrating or audio alert

It’s portable - you can take the caregiver receiver with you throughout the house, and even outdoors, as long as you stay within the 100-foot transmission range. Test to make sure you can get the signal, as transmission ranges vary depending on environmental conditions.

CONS - Product Specific
The audio alert is called a “chime” by the manufacturer. In reality, it s a high pitched beeping sound.

There is no volume control - unfortunate as the alarm sound can be a bit jarring.

Although the vibrate alert is a nice option, you’ll need to test each time you want to use this function, as your sensitivity to vibration can be influenced by the clothing you are wearing and how close to your body the receiver is placed.

CAUTION
See General Cautions Above

DISCLAIMER
The listing of these products is for informational purposes and individuals must use their own caution and judgment when using these resources. Functional levels and changes in judgment and reasoning are highly variable in people with dementia. Interventions must be individualized and continually assessed because those that are effective for some individuals may only work briefly and may not work at all for others.

Product Selection Criteria

Our goal is to teach you how to be a good consumer and to help you learn about specific products and unique product features that may enhance your safety and the safety and function of the person with dementia. The products shown in This Caring Home serve as examples only. Manufacturers continually change product specifications and the products represented may be different from those now on the market.

We realize this is not an all-inclusive list. Products featured in This Caring Home were chosen for one or more of the following reasons:
  • Affordability
  • Attractiveness
  • Availability
  • Color selection
  • Ease of use
  • Quality
  • Safety
We encourage you to discuss product selection with other caregivers and health care professionals.


How We Tested

"ThisCaringHome.org tested many products that are commonly recommended for best practices to identify the best use of these products and any potential problems in their use by caregivers and individuals with dementia. Each product included in an Expert Review was tested in a home environment, either an apartment or a single family home (or both), by at least two people. Rosemary Bakker, interior designer, gerontologist and dementia specialist, was one of the testers for every product. Whenever possible, we tested the product over time, sometimes days, weeks, or months, for:
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Potential safety issues
As a result of our testing, we're listing the pros and cons for using these products and including safety precautions for various products. These products were not tested by persons with dementia. We hope in the future to do case studies to learn more about what works and what doesn't work in a larger variety of caregiving situations and home environments."

Products listed on our website but not tested by ThisCaringHome.org are referred to as "Product Listings".



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