Last year, my parents’ alarm system –a Brittany Spaniel named Chip– passed away. Sure, he was a sweet boy who probably would have licked an intruder to death, but it was always comforting to know that his bark would at least deter burglars from trying to enter their home. When they said they weren’t going to get another dog at their age, I worried. Older adults are an easy target for home invasions since thieves often perceive them as vulnerable, and I don’t live close enough to drive by and check on their safety all the time.
Needless to say, I was happy when my dad decided to purchase a Ring Security System. A study on the habits and motivations of burglars conducted by the UNC Charlotte found that 83 percent of would-be burglars check for a security system before attempting a burglary, and 60 percent say they move on if a system is present. I’ve researched lots of medical alert systems for seniors living at home— and those buttons can be pushed to seek help if an intruder enters— but if you’re concerned about your loved one’s security, I’d recommend looking into a system that keeps burglars from entering in the first place. Here are three security systems that I would trust with my own parents’ safety.
Ring Video Doorbell and Alarm
This device brings peace of mind for seniors who can’t easily see or get to their door. A camera on the doorbell allows them to view who is at the door via a smartphone or tablet, and a two-way speaker lets them chat with visitors. This has been nice for my parents when a delivery arrives since they can just say, “Leave it on the porch,” even if they’re away from home. Ring also sends a notification when any motion occurs outside the door. You can adjust the sensitivity settings since it sometimes picks up cars that are only driving by, but I personally love knowing that my parents will know right away if anyone suspicious is approaching their driveway.
It doesn’t cost anything to self-monitor the Ring camera, but professional monitoring is available for $9.99 per month. The Ring’s base station has a Z-Wave radio chip if you want to purchase add-on devices such as:
Stick Up Cam – A good option if there are dark areas around the home. It has motion detection, infrared night vision, and two-way talk.
Alarm Flood & Freeze Sensor – These sensors detect water hazards in the basement if your elderly loved one doesn’t venture down there often.
Plug-in Dimmer Switch – This lets you control lights by voice or with a smartphone, which can be really useful when your loved one is alone in the dark at night.
Cost: $59.99 for wired system that works with existing doorbell wiring; monitoring for $9.99 per month; $99.99 for wireless.
I can see why Frontpoint was rated “Best Home Security System of 2021” by the US News & World Report. It can be pricey, but it has some features that would definitely help keep seniors more secure. It’s pre-configured so there’s no complicated setup, and smart technology lets the homeowner lock doors and control lights with their voice. I also love the peace of mind features such as:
It adapts to your loved one’s schedule and sends notifications if something seems out of the ordinary.
It has geo-location, so if they walk or drive a certain distance from home, it sends a reminder to activate the alarm.
You can create guest codes for the pinpad so you and other family members can enter if needed.
You can build your own security package with an optional doorbell camera, exterior security cameras, glass break sensors, interior motion sensors, smart locks and panic pendants similar to those in a medical alert system.
The Safe Home package includes a hub, a wireless keypad, glass break sensors, two door/window entry sensors, one motion sensor, a free doorbell camera, a yard sign, and window decals. You don’t have to pay for monitoring for a break in to sound an alarm; but a paid plan provides professional monitoring, remote video surveillance, and other benefits.
Cost: $249.30 for Safe Home package; professional monitoring starts at $34.99 per month.
The fact that Simplisafe offers AARP members a 15% discount is a perk for seniors, but it offers them much more. Its Foundation Package operates on just a smart base station, a wireless keypad, an entry sensor, and a motion sensor, making it easy to set up and operate. Like Frontpoint, you can build your own security package by adding security cameras, a video doorbell, a smartlock keyless entry pad, smoke alarms, and panic buttons.
What I like most about SimpliSafe is the professional monitoring plans. At just $24.99 per month, you get the same peace of mind you’d have if your loved one had a medical alert system, but you also get so much more for the money. Not only does a call center monitor Simplisafe panic buttons, but it also:
Provides 24/7 professional alarm and environmental monitoring as well as live video monitoring.
A call center that will dispatch police, firefighters, and paramedics.
Allows you to remotely arm and disarm the alarm system.
Sends alerts about potential fires and break ins.
Allows the homeowner to tell Alexa or Google Assistant to arm the system, remotely control smart lights, and verify that doors are locked.
Lets family members control your system from their phones if needed— which is great peace of mind for seniors who forget to set the alarm.
And one final bonus that’s great for seniors: SimpliSafe’s base is portable and the sensors are attached with 3M Command Adhesive, making it easy to transport. If your loved one is planning to downsize or move to an independent living facility sometime soon, they’ll love knowing they’re secure in their new home— and so will you.
Cost: $229 for the Foundation Package; monitoring starts at $14.99 per month.