In 2019, a large number of Americans — 65 percent — said aging in place is their goal, according to a survey conducted by Fresenius Medical Care. The same survey showed that 34 percent of Americans are caring for a family member with a chronic health condition.
Caring for our elderly loved ones at home can be a rewarding albeit daunting task. Not only is it cheaper than putting your parents at an assisted living facility, it also gives you peace of mind being able to care for them on your own. But with so many tasks needed to take care of them and with the potential for something to go wrong quickly, it’s important to employ the help of anything that can make it a little bit easier.
A smart home security system to look after them and to automate certain tasks is a great solution. Not only will it make your job easier, but it will also help prevent any incidents from happening to your elderly loved ones. Here are some smart ways you can use your home security system to care for the elderly:
Get visual verification of their safety via security cameras
Anyone who’s caring for the elderly knows that it would be helpful to have an extra set of eyes to look after their loved ones. But since we can’t be with them 24/7, the next best thing we can do is install security cameras around and outside the house. With this setup, you can see if there are any potential threats from hazards within the house or risks posed by other people.
Choosing what security camera to install in your home is crucial to ensuring efficient and effective monitoring of your loved ones. You should opt for cameras that have a wide angle lens for a wider field of view of the surroundings and the people in it.
For night recording, opt for cameras that have low-light vision and motion detection for a clear and more accurate view. A built-in microphone and speaker system in your camera can also be helpful in shooing away potential intruders and burglars as well as conversing with your loved one about their wellbeing.
Of course, these cameras aren’t meant for spying so be sure to place them in common indoor areas to use solely to ensure the wellbeing of your aging loved one. Avoid placing them anywhere they would expect to be private.
Have them sound the alarm for help using panic buttons
Caregivers for those with chronic health conditions know that those in their care are prone to health emergencies and accidents due to hazards within the household. When this happens, it’s important that they are able to get the attention of their caregivers so they can be given immediate assistance. In these situations, a panic button is ideal in getting the attention of anyone with access to the system.
Install your panic button in areas of the house where the elderly usually are like the living room, dining room, kitchen, beside bathtubs, and in bedrooms. You can also opt to put one beside the front door in case of potential intruders or burglars that attempt to enter via the front door. Keep in mind that these also don’t need to be stationary, they are compact enough to have one around at all times by simply keeping it in a pocket.
Get notified of open doors and windows… and intruders
As they age, the elderly tend to lose focus on things around them including shutting and locking doors behind them.
To help ensure their security, you should opt for a smart home security system that includes door/window sensors and can pair with smart door locks. Most smart home security providers allow you to monitor these devices right from your phone or computer, so you are notified right away that a door or window is open or that a door was left unlocked in the night. Some providers can even send you a notification when a door or window has been left open for a specific period of time and automatically lock a door at a specified time.
Turn off the lights for them
To ensure nighttime safety, pair smart light bulbs and smart power outlets to your system. You can set up motion and time-based automations to ensure every step at night is well lit. For example, you can say if the motion sensor in the hallway detects movement after sunset, turn the hall lights on.
Smart bulbs from brands like Philips HUE and LIFX enable you to monitor and control light fixtures from your phone or computer, such as automatically turning them off after a specified time or adjusting the brightness and color of the lights. If you don’t have a smart bulb installed, use a smart power switch to turn any lamp into a controllable device. A standing lamp or table lamp connected to a smart power switch can be easily turned on and off from your phone or computer or by using time-based automations.
If your elderly loved ones have access to these devices on their smartphones or tablets, they don’t need to fumble in the dark for the switch just to open the light at night.
Automatically adjust the temperature to their comfort level
Our elderly loved ones are prone to health problems posed by changing temperature and humidity. Extreme low temperatures can trigger arthritis and other musculoskeletal problems, while extreme heat can cause dehydration, migraines, and even strokes.
To avoid these health issues, install a thermostat that can be controlled from your smartphone or computer using an application. Once integrated into your system, you can monitor the temperature and humidity inside your home and adjust it according to the needs of your elderly loved ones based on their schedule and preferences.
Reduce safety risks by detecting water leaks
Water leaks and spills pose a safety risk to the elderly as these could cause them to slip, fall, and hurt themselves, with some even suffering fatal injuries. It’s highly important that slippery surfaces at home are managed to avoid disaster.
To alert you of potential water leaks either from broken pipes or flooding caused by inclement weather, install a water leak sensor in bathrooms, the kitchen, and other areas in the house where water could come in. Once a water leak sensor detects water, it can notify you right from your phone and computer so you can immediately address the problem and save your elderly loved one from a potentially fatal accident.
Indeed, while aging in place can be a daunting place, there are creative ways in which you can make it an even more rewarding experience not just for yourself as the caregiver, but also for the elderly, so that they will age gracefully and live the rest of their lives comfortably in their abode.