How to Buy a Senior Home Monitoring System
If your loved one is like 87% of seniors, they are intent on aging in place, but you worry. If they don’t have a caregiver around to keep an eye on things, what happens if they start having trouble with more everyday activities? What if no one notices when the cleaning starts to slip or they stop eating regular meals? What happens if your loved one trips and is unable get to a phone?
Those worries are a big part of the reason some seniors end up in assisted living before they feel ready for them. One option families now have to address those concerns without making such a dramatic move is home monitoring systems.
A Home Monitoring System for Seniors
A home monitoring system is any sort of product that helps you stay aware of what’s happening in your loved one’s life from a distance. The details of the products available for this vary.
Some simply let you know if your loved one falls down and needs emergency services, some are larger systems for tracking how active they are and what they do as they go about their day.
To be clear, home monitoring systems can’t solve every problem seniors will face as they age. Most notably, they won’t perform activities of daily living (ADLs), so once your senior loved one begins to need that level of care, you’ll need to consider in-home care, moving in with a loved one or a senior living community.
But there are a number of reasons why families find home monitoring systems useful:
- If your loved one is still reasonably able to live alone, but you want some extra peace of mind that you’ll know if something bad happens and be able to recognize it when their need for care becomes more serious
- If your loved one receives in-home care or family caregiving help for part of the day, but you want home monitoring to help you keep an eye on things for the times no one can be around
It’s also important that your loved one is on board with home monitoring. They’ll be giving up a certain amount of privacy to you in exchange for greater safety and staying in their home longer. It still affords them more independence and privacy than a move to assisted living, but it’s important that they feel comfortable with the change.
What to Look for in a Home Monitoring System
A lot of home monitoring systems on the market are primarily focused on home security rather than senior care.
When your priority is keeping a senior loved one safe, there are particular features you’ll want to consider:
- Compatibility with smart tech: Smart technology can make many aspects of aging in place easier and home monitoring systems that tap into the smart tech you have can provide more data on how your loved one is living their life and going about their day. If they never turn the lights on outside their own room for a day, for instance, it might alert you that they’re sick in bed and need someone to take care of them.
- Emergency button: An emergency button is normally something a senior would carry on them or wear to serve a similar purpose to fall detection. If anything happens – a fall, an injury, sudden pain – they can easily call for help with it. It’s especially useful for any seniors at risk of heart attack or stroke, where how long it takes to get help makes a huge difference.
- Fall detection: Anyone that lives alone is at risk of falling and being stuck without help until a friend stops by or someone notices their absence. For seniors, of course, the risk is bigger as falls are more common due to balance issues and do more damage due to weaker bones. A monitoring system that includes a fall detection feature (usually on a wearable part of the product) will ensure your loved one gets help faster if they do fall.
- Monitoring sensors: Some home monitoring products include sensors that help track a person’s movement throughout the home. For loved ones worried about how active seniors are (or aren’t) these help you stay aware of their day-to-day activity, so you know sooner if there’s a problem.
- Remote access: For many of these features to be useful, you need a way to see what’s going on from afar. If you can tap into the system remotely to check on how active your loved one has been or to see what they’re up to, then you can stay confident they’re safe and healthy without having to be in the room with them.
Home Monitoring Systems for Seniors to Consider
There are a number of home monitoring systems on the market that provide the kind of features that you’re likely to want to help you monitor the health and safety of your senior loved one:
Alarm.com’s Wellness product for seniors works with the company’s other home security products while adding functionality that’s specific to the needs of aging in place. It can be paired with most emergency button products, but also monitors activity patterns and sends alerts to loved ones when there’s a change in daily activities that may be a cause for concern.
Nest Indoor Cam
Nest is another smart home company with a range of connected products. Their indoor cam can be used to check in on your loved one and can be set to provide alerts when a person comes into frame or activity happens in certain areas. While those features are provided to warn homeowners of intruders, they could be used by family members wanting to keep track of a loved one’s activity. If you use other Nest products like their alarm system or thermostat, you can keep tabs on the information collected by those in the same app you use to check the camera.
Samsung Smart Things and Motion Sensor
Samsung offers a range of smart products that can all connect to each other. Notably, they sell motion sensors that you can put in different rooms around the house to monitor movement so you can check in on how active your loved one is. Their smart products also work with compatible security systems and provide a number of features that can simplify aging-in-place, like smart lights that turn on when you walk in the room, so your loved one doesn’t risk falling down while trying to get to the light switch in the dark.
Sen.se Mother offers a smart system of sensors you can use to track a variety of things – including some ADLs. The app connected to the sensors can remind your loved one to drink enough water and take their meds, while the sensors placed around the house can help you track things like how often they brush their teeth or how active they are throughout the day.
Sen.se Mother’s sensors can be used for a wide range of things, not all of them specific to seniors, but their functionality covers a lot of the territory you would need in a home monitoring system for a senior loved one.
Vivint offers a smart home system of products that provide much of the functionality you could need in a home monitoring system for a senior. Their products include indoor cameras, outdoor cameras, smart locks and thermostats. All of these products can be monitored and accessed remotely, so you can use the cameras to check in on your loved one and double-check for them that the doors are locked at night, for instance.
It’s not the same as being there in the house with them, but a home monitoring system provides you a way to check in on your loved one in your absence. Even if you live far away, you can be confident about their health and safety in real time.