How Caregivers Can Make Video Monitors on aHow Caregivers Can Make Video Monitors on a Shoestring Budget Shoestring Budget

Whether you live with a parent who needs care or you want to keep in touch with your folks face-to-face because you’re apart, it’s easier than ever to set up your own wireless video monitor with tablets and smartphones, an internet connection, and apps like Presence and AtHome. These tech tools can help you keep your loved one safer at home without costing you a fortune on equipment. Here’s how you can make video monitors on a shoestring budget.

How to use AtHome to create a senior care video monitor

The AtHome app by iChano lets you turn all types of devices into remote video monitors, including old tablets and smartphones, IP cameras, smart TVs, and USB cameras that are plugged into a computer.

I tried AtHome to monitor baby chicks and ducklings in my garage early this spring, using an old Nexus tablet that was too out of date to run most of the apps I use. The AtHome app worked fine on this tablet, which I put on a cheap tripod stand outside the poultry pen. In my office, I could watch the birds on my Android smartphone and easily made a short video of them to share with friends. Setup took about 10 minutes, and I didn’t have to buy anything to get started—although it turns out having a livestream of chicks and ducklings toddling around was too distracting so I had to shut it down.

Here’s what I liked about AtHome:

  • AtHome doesn’t require you to buy any costly or new equipment to get started. Your old tech gear is probably compatible, or you can buy a cheap older device and charger to begin.
  • You can have motion-detection alerts sent to your phone – helpful if you’re worried about your parent wandering at night, for instance.
  • AtHome’s premium version, which costs $5 per month or $46 per year, lets you store your videos in the cloud, record in HD, view multiple cameras in a split screen format, and get higher quality two-way audio.
  • AtHome also encrypts your video streams, which protects your family’s privacy from WiFi snoops and hackers.

AtHome offers a simple, quick-start way to keep tabs on a loved one.

How to use Presence to create a senior care video monitor

The Presence app offers many of the same free functions that AtHome does, but it works on devices running iOS 6, Android 4.3 or their newer versions, which means I wasn’t able to install Presence on my ancient Nexus tablet. If you have tech devices from 2012-2013 or later sitting around, Presence might be your preferred option.

That’s because unlike AtHome, Presence gives you the option to buy home-security system equipment, digital thermostats, and water sensors you can use to monitor your parents’ home for break-ins, water-heater leaks, and more with the same app. If you’re comfortable with remote technology and have the budget for these add-ons, you can give yourself extra peace of mind about your parents aging in place.

Using senior care video monitors

The first rule of monitoring your folks, of course, is to have their consent. Adults who live far from their folks will like seeing that their parents are doing OK, while in-home caregivers will appreciate the ability to keep an eye on their loved ones while they’re in another part of the home. You could also use your monitor to watch over paid in-home caregivers, but you need to know your state’s laws on caregiver monitors, especially if you’re recording audio.

Learn more about aging in place safely on the blog.

Note: This article has been updated to include more detailed information about the Presence app’s device support.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.


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