A sensor element for detecting and measuring a dielectric shift for use with a patient monitoring system and methods for manufacturing such sensor elements for use. Sensor elements include flat, flexible, substrate layers that are manufactured into sheets that include at least two longitudinal conductive elements printed onto one side of the substrate layer material. Disclosed also is an integrated interconnect cable component for allowing the operation of dielectric shift sensor elements with a variety of control monitors associated with pressure switch based patient alarm systems. The interconnect cable component may be used for connecting a dielectric shift sensing mat with any of a variety of different pressure switch based control unit modules used with patient occupancy alarm systems. Wired and wireless embodiments of the monitoring system are described. Various structural and material embodiments in different sleeping (bed) and sitting (chair) environments are also described.