Monday, August 8, 2011

Wander Alarm

Dementia plays many an unkind trick; one of the more dangerous is wandering. When you find a parent or spouse leaving the house half-dressed in the middle of the night, it's clear you are very close to having a tragedy on your hands.

No-one can stay vigilant and sleep; I needed a technical fix. I considered special locks, but I'm not happy with the idea of a door that can't be opened really quickly and easily in the event of a fire. Also, I wanted something subtle; I'm very sensitive to the indignities that dementia inflicts, and didn't want to add any conspicuous this-is-to-stop-you-escaping hardware.

I finally settled on a wireless infrared motion detector which sets off a chime unit. I actually started drawing up a parts list so I could build one myself, but was relieved to find a ready-made version already for sale on Amazon, sold as a handy way to detect arrivals (burglars, customers) rather than departures.

A month on, and I'm now confident the problem is solved. The sensors (wireless) were easy to install, the chime is loud, and the monitor is conveniently portable - whoever is "on duty" for the night can carry it to their bedroom.

I was wrong about the "inconspicuous" bit, though: the man the alarm is intended to save now refers to it as "the Dad-catcher". Kind of a you've-got-to-laugh-or-you'ld-cry moment.

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