Dementia is a term given to a group of mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Each of the above diseases tends to deteriorate over time, with differing symptoms.
What Is Dementia Wandering?
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease are often known to wander. Any Alzheimer’s patient who is still mobile will wander.
Wandering is extremely dangerous. Patients may easily forget who they are, may become lost or disoriented. They are at high risk of accident, muggings and robbery, getting left out in extreme cold or heat, and many other threats
Wandering is hard on the patient’s families as well. The constant struggle to keep tabs on your loved one, not knowing when they might disappear or worse can take its toll, leading to restlessness, anxiety, fear and paranoia among them. Countless sleepless nights running around trying to find the patient also extracts a price from the body, which needs sleep to function properly.
Why Not Simply Lock the Doors?
One option, of course, is to lock the doors at all times, especially when sleeping with a lock that has a specific key or number combination unknown to your loved one. However, in the case of a fire hazard, this can be dangerous, as they may not be able to escape in time.
It is also possible that they might take offense to such constant scrutiny, especially if this practice is implemented during the day as well. It is important that patients suffering from dementia should be allowed to maintain their dignity.
If you are looking for a door lock designed for dementia patients, you should read best door locks for dementia patients.
What Is a “Door Alarm”?
A door alarm is a device that detects when a door is opened and alerts others in the house/area that someone has left the house. Usually, it consists of a device mounted on the door which is integrated with an alarm or a chime that is loud enough to be heard from a distance.
Advanced options also include remote-controlled operation, remote alarm (which is not played at the door, but instead somewhere the caregiver or family member can hear it.
Some alarms are also combined with remote-sensor wrist bands that can be put on the person that needs to be tracked. This way an alarm is raised only if the person that needs to be tracked leaves the house, instead of doing it every time anyone leaves.
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What Are the Various Types of Door Alarms?
A string alarm is just that – a string, connecting the door and the door frame by a magnet. When the door opens, it causes the string to detach, thus sounding an alarm. To stop the alarm, simply reconnect the magnet back in its original position.
Passive InfraRed (PIR) Alarms
A PIR sensor can detect changes in the infrared radiation being emitted by an object upon it. The PIR alarm uses this technology to check if the plane across the door is changing, and raises an alarm when this plane is broken.
The great thing about PIR alarms is that they can detect a person leaving from the door even if the door is currently open. Since the technology only looks at the plane of the door and detects heat signatures in that plane, a hot body entering the plane is registered whether or not the door itself is in place. Thus an alarm is raised every time someone passes through the frame of the door.
Magnetic Door Alarms
A magnetic door alarm is nothing but two sensors containing magnets, one on the door and the other on the door frame, in close contact with each other.
As long as the two magnets are in each other’s presence (not more than 10-15mm apart), the alarm will remain inert. As soon as the door is opened, the connection between the two magnets is lost and an alarm is raised, and it can be reset only when the two magnets are connected back to each other.
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Floor Sensor Alarms
Floor sensor alarms use a combination of weight sensing floor mats and door alarms. When your loved one stands on the mat, the change in weight is registered and an alarm is raised.
Floor sensor alarms can be preset to either alarm immediately or to allow a small time for the person to exit and return before sounding. Since they are pressure sensitive and not dependant on the door per se, they can be used to curb wandering at the bedside itself and can warn caregivers that much earlier.
Remote Sounding Alarms
If you do not wish to startle the person with dementia who is opening a door, you can use a remote sounding alarm that will sound near the caregiver instead of at the door.
These alarms typically have two parts: a transmitter that is connected to the door and is activated when it is opened, and a receiver that is placed near the caregiver and is connected with the alarm.
In the event of your loved one wandering out, the transmitter will send a signal to the receiver which will activate the alarm, thus waking up the caregiver.
Keypad locks require a degree of awareness to unlock (since the combination has to be entered by hand). Therefore they can be used to prevent your loved one from wandering out.
Since keypad locks can be connected to a fire alarm/smoke detector, they aren’t a threat in case of fire, which is the problem with normal locks.
Gps Alert Systems
GPS is a technology used for tracking and locating things. A GPS alert system can be included in many things – even small ones like shoes, watches or bracelets. It is possible to track when a person breaches a perimeter (say 50 metres) from the house, or else you can simply track continuously.
Below are our top picks for Dementia Wandering Door Alarms.
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#1 GE Personal Security Window/Door Alam
If you’re looking for a simple, cost-effective alarm that delivers results, the GE personal security window/door alarm is one of the best devices out there. It is a magnetic door alarm that can be easily installed at any door/window in your house.
The installation is as simple as taking it out of the packaging and using the double-sided tape (provided as part of the package) to stick the two parts to the door and doorframe. The alarm is battery operated and can be turned on with the push of a button. It also has a handy low battery checking mechanism.
The alarm has a 120dB high pitched alarm, which is loud enough to wake up other family members in the house.
This device is larger than others on this list, its listed size is 5 X 4.25 x 1.25 inches and weighed 3.2 ounces. It works on 2 LR44 batteries which are included in the pack.
It comes in convenient packs (1 piece, 2 pieces, 4 pieces) to cater to your needs based on how many doors you may want to cover. It also has a 90-day warranty for any product faults.
- It is an inexpensive and fairly durable device
- It has 3 modes: alarm, chime, and off. In chime mode, it can be used as a doorbell as well.
- 120 dB loud and shrill alarm, enough to wake caregivers in the house
- It can be installed without any tools
- The two magnetic parts can be set quite far apart, therefore works even on older doors
- Battery operated, with built-in battery life checker
- Shuts down immediately after the door closes. Ideally, it should keep raising alarm until it is shut off
- It is too shrill, even in chime mode – can cause discomfort both to the loved one and the caregivers enough to wake up other family members in the house.
Here we have a video featuring GE Personal Security Window/Door Alam
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#2 Wsdcam Wireless Remote Door Alarm
The Wsdcam wireless consists of a magnetic alarm coupled with a remote controller. It has 4 modes, which make it a multipurpose device: Arm/Disarm/Panic/Doorbell.
It comes with a loud 110dB alarm, is easy to install and comes ready to start working from the packaging itself (batteries are included as part of the product)
The remote control has a 45ft range and can connect with 2 different alarms simultaneously. Both remote and alarm have low battery consumption. AAA batteries are included with the pack.
The alarm is small in size (3.35X1.57X0.59 inches) and weighs only 4.2 ounces.
There is a convenient DIY pairing option for the remote and the alarm – you can match up to 8 remotes with one alarm, and up to 50 alarms from one remote. This means that one remote can access all the doors in the house, and remotes can be given to each person in the family.
- Remote controlled, multiple alarms can be configured to 1 remote
- 49ft remote control range, enough to cover most houses
- Battery operated, 2AAA batteries included in the product
- 4 modes: arm, disarm, panic, doorbell mode. Can work as both doorbell and alarm
- Easy to install (a stick-on device with no wires)
- It is a bit too loud, even in chime mode
- Expensive, as compared to other options
#3 Secrui Door Chime, Wireless Door Alarm Contact Sensor Doorbell with 500ft Range 52 Chimes
The Secrui door chime comes with loads of features – first of all, it has a 500 ft radius of operation which can cover almost any size of the house.
The alarm has a volume adjustment option and can operate within a 0-100dB range. It also has 52 in-built chimes, for personalizing based on your favourite tune.
At only 3 inches height, the device is very compact and can easily be installed at any door or window in the house.
The device also has an upgraded battery life, which makes it easy to operate. It also has a battery level indicator, making it easy to replace batteries when they are about to go dead.
This is one of the smallest door alarm sensors on the list (size: 3.0 x 1.0 x 0.60 inches) and product weight of 7.2 ounces. The 2 magnetic sensor units need to be kept within a distance of 10mm apart to function properly
- 52 chimes for easy setting, a volume control to set volume
- Small size, easy to install. No tool work required.
- Multi-coloured alarms for people with hearing problems
- Requires to be connected to an electrical outlet
- Tune is not cut off after door closes, it continues till the device is rested
- Magnetic sensors need to be kept at a maximum distance of 10mm. Does not work on some older door frames.
- Expensive, as compared to other options
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#4 Fosmon WaveLink 51007HOM Wireless Door Open Chime
The Fosmon WaveLing is a complete door alarm system, not just a standard door alarm. It includes 2 components – a transmitter, which contains the magnetic sensor to detect door opening, and a receiver which has both the alarm chime and a visual LED indicator for people who are hearing impaired.
The device has an area of operation of up to 400ft, which can cover any major house size. You can have up to 10 receivers per sensor or vice-versa.
It has 52 unique tunes and ringtones for use as a doorbell and the LED indicator gives an added appeal to the receiver. The volume can be increased or decreased within the range of 25 to 110dB.
Both the receiver and transmitter are small in size (Receiver = 3.17×3.19×1.12inch, Transmitter = 2.95×1.97×0.63inch). The receiver weighs about 3 ounces and the transmitter about 1 ounce
It is possible to pair up to 10 sensors to 1 receiver, so you can sleep peacefully while all doors in the house are protected.
With a limited lifetime warranty and simple plug-in sensor, this device can be a great solution to the dementia wandering of your loved one.
- It has a very strong reception, up to 400 feet which can cover most types of houses
- The LED display is a boon for hearing impaired
- There are 52 different Chimes to play – choice of melody
- Easy to install, no screws or mounting needed -the transmitter can be put up by doubled sided tape and the receiver fits directly in the electricity plug.
- The device comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- One of the few alarms with a volume control setting. Volume can be adjusted as per one’s capacity to bear.
- There have been occasional complaints of the device not working after a few weeks
- Even though there are 52 chimes, the selection is mostly children’s lullaby’s. May not suit some people’s tastes!
#5 Lewis N Clark Travel Door Alarm
The Lewis N Clark is the first String Alarm to feature on our list.
This is one of the most portable, versatile and easy to work with door alarms. There is a metallic part on the device which consists of two prongs. The prongs are set on either side of the door and go off in case of anyone trying to open the door.
Since there is no installation involved, this is a portable device which can be picked up and put in place in a hotel room in case you are travelling. It weighs less than 2 ounces, so it’s not heavy on your luggage either.
It also has an inbuilt flashlight function for use late at night.
As compared to other alarms on this list, the Lewis and Clark has a maximum alarm strength of 91dB, which might be a bit low, especially for a larger house.
- Easy to set-up, no installation required.
- Portable. Can be taken along when travelling
- Inexpensive as compared to others in this list
- The alarm may not be loud enough for larger homes
- The metal prongs do not open far enough, requiring the door frame to be very tight.
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#6 Door Alarm, Toeeson 120DB
This sleek, stylish magnetic door alarm packs a powerful 120dB punch, which is audible up to 750 feet away! It is super easy to install with no screws and comes in a reasonably priced pack of 6, so that you can make sure to cover all the entrance/exits of your home in one go.
The alarm has been carefully crafted. It is dust-free, corrosion-resistant and even resistant to high temperature. At a size of 2.9 inch X 1.5 inch X 0.4 inch, it is one of the smallest magnetic alarms in the market and weighs only 18 grams.
The alarm works on 3 LR44 batteries (not included in the package) which can easily be inserted with a screwdriver. There is a low battery indicator (a small red light on the body of the alarm) which is helpful to let you know when the batteries have expired.
The magnets are powerful enough to work on a recessed door/frame, which is not the case with many other alarms.
- Loud alarm, enough to be able to hear from 750ft.
- Easy to install
- Has a Low Battery indicator
- Strong magnets, work on recessed doors/moulding frames as well
- The two magnetic strips need to be within 1cm of each other. Does not work on some doorways
- Adhesive tape quality is poor
#7 Entrance Alert Chime with PIR Sensor
This is the only PIR door alarm on our list. PIR alarms usually come as part of an alarm system and are not sold independently. This is one of the few that comes as a self-contained unit.
To use the sensor, simply mount it on the door with either the double-sided tape provided as part of the package or else screw it in. Once turned on, the sensor will detect if there is a change in the heat signature of the monitored zone, and will play one of two available chimes.
There is a volume control knob that allows you to customize how loud the alarm can sound. There is also a sensitivity setting, to ensure that inanimate objects and small animals can pass through undetected so that unnecessary alarm is not raised. For best results, the higher the sensor is mounted the better is the range of detection.
The most important benefit of a PIR sensor is that it will raise an alarm even if the door is open and someone passes through. This is especially important for people with dementia so that one is absolutely sure that they do not wander if the door is left open by accident.
It is a comparatively bigger unit (4.5 X 2.75 X 1.5 inches) as compared to other alarms in this article.
- It has a powerful alarm that works on a range of 1500sqft
- Works on PIR technology and can detect movement even if the door is open
- It has a long battery life
- It has a volume adjust and sensitivity adjust control
- There have been few Complaints of breakdown after a few months
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#8 Ideal Security SK630 SOLO Pressure
The Ideal Security SK630 is the only floor sensor alarm on our list.
It consists of a pressure-sensitive mat, which when stepped on is able to alert you about the coming and going of a loved one who may be wandering out. Keep in mind that the mat is sensitive to any pressure above 1 pound/per square inch, therefore it will be activated even due to the entry/exit of small animals.
An alarm unit is connected to the pressure-sensitive mat by a 30 feet wire (which can be extended up to 65 feet with an optional extension cable which is not part of packaging).
There are two modes of operation: chime and alarm. There is no volume control in either mode. In alarm mode, there will be a 105dB sound triggered, whereas, in chime mode, a ding-dong sound will be activated.
The alarm works on a 9V battery, which would ideally last about 5 months.
When covered with a waterproof mat, this device can be used in an outdoor mode as well.
- Since it is pressure sensitive and uses the mat as the main triggering point, this device can be used anywhere (not just the door). It can prevent wandering at the bed itself, for example
- It has a super long connecting wire, which helps alert the caregiver in another room
- Fairly inexpensive for the technology that it is using.
- Triggering can happen due to many causes and therefore alarm can be erratic
- The wire connecting the mat and the alarm is very thin and easily damaged
- The packaging of the mat causes permanent creasing on the mat
- The alarm can be too loud
- 9V batteries are fairly expensive and this device is battery-intensive