Using a home camera to monitor an elderly person may provide family members and other caregivers some comfort, especially if the camera that allows sight and sound to be viewed in real time. Today, cameras are ubiquitous in many public and private spaces to allow monitoring people inside and outside of buildings and other facilities. Banks, shopping malls and office buildings use cameras to detect and prevent crime and assist law enforcement. The use of cameras in private homes is something of a new practice, especially if used on the inside of the home as opposed to keeping an eye on who’s on the outside of the home.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities for seniors use cameras in many ways, often to monitor traffic in foyers and entrances. Many private citizens install home camera surveillance systems to monitor their loved ones at home. Sometimes a family may find it possible to install a camera in a senior living community but this is generally prohibited.
The installation of a home camera for monitoring an elderly loved one will require consideration of how it will be used to choose the best-suited camera and then installing equipment and monitoring the video feed remotely or at home.
Pros and cons of camera monitors
Since the creation of so-called “nanny cams,” Americans and persons in other countries have been comfortable with at-home surveillance if done by the homeowner, especially to protect against strangers. For seniors, monitoring also helps not only enhance the safety of a senior if a caregiver is not present but calms the mind of an adult child who may be worried about their loved one. Unlike a small child who cannot be left alone, seniors are often capable of caring for themselves most of the time—until they aren’t.
Imagine you’re a caregiver for your elderly mother who is of sound mind but has had some slips lately. No serious injuries have occurred, but it is becoming clearer each day that when you leave the shared home for work, she may fall without anyone to find her for several life-threatening hours. Now, with the right technology, you can check on her every few minutes or see where she is moving or if she stops moving.
Sofie Kodner elaborates on the growing need for Kaiser Health News:
“Technology could help fill a huge gap in home care for the elderly. Paid caregivers are in short supply to meet the needs of the aging population, which is expected to more than double in coming decades … For the nearly one in five U.S adults who are caregivers to a family member or friend over age 50, the gadgets have made a hard job just a little easier.”
The use of camera surveillance for the safety of dementia patients or other cognitive disorder is often vital to control the risk of wandering outside the home into danger. A home camera with video monitoring can help assure that the loved one is seen and stopped before leaving the house or venturing far from it.
Using a camera can have consequences
However, problems can arise from utilizing home camera surveillance. First, you must obtain the consent of the senior person. Recording someone without his or her consent has consequences. Some seniors view the installation of camera equipment in their home as a violation of privacy. Or, they may not be capable of consenting to or denying consent to, the monitoring. That is usually the case with persons with severely advanced cognitive decline. In those cases, the decision lies with the legal guardian who may be the spouse, child, close friend, or lawyer. Navigating this may be difficult.
The cost of installation may also be a hurdle. Some persons may be able to find the appropriate equipment and install it themselves. However, many persons require expert installers. This may be expensive and shows why making early plans with the senior person, along with a savings plan, may resolve this issue. A good system may cost more than $1,000, depending on quality.
Questions to ask when considering a home camera
When thinking about a home camera, the senior person, the location and the reasons for monitoring must be studied. What is the area to be monitored? How big is the space and does more than one space require monitoring? Remember that someone will not be viewing the monitor constantly, so you should develop a plan to receive alerts if the senior falls. The lighting in a room is also important in order to view the senior clearly.
Sometimes, the purpose of a monitor has more to do with the solace of knowing the senior is comfortable and his or her movement and balance can be observed, in addition to monitoring falls. This may require the family to consider a two-way monitoring system.
Types of cameras
Picking the right monitoring camera is not as simple as it may appear. For example, if a camera that follows the movement of a person is desired, a pan/tilt/zoom(PTZ) camera should be considered rather than a fixed camera. Previously, fixed cameras and PTZ were the predominant types of cameras available. Today, the offerings are plentiful. That is why the features that can be added to a security monitoring camera must be weighed.
- Fixed camera: A common choice is a fixed camera, which is placed in a position to capture images and may be enhanced to function in different types of houses and outdoor structures. With few moving parts, fixed cameras are sometimes more reliable than the pan/tilt/zoom cameras and point in a set, intended direction.
- PTZ cameras: Cameras that can be positioned remotely are often called PTZ cameras because they can pan, tilt and zoom in on an object. These are specially designed fixed cameras built with gears and motors that allow operators to move it remotely. Higher-end cameras may have a higher zoom range, which may help cover a senior in a larger home. PTZ cameras can be helpful for monitoring a senior as he or she moves around, but are considered most effective when guided manually.
- 360-degree camera: This camera is usually the multiple high-resolution security camera placed in a single home. It stitches together the images and allows zooming in and out. Because all images are continuously recorded, the camera can face in all directions and is helpful for keeping a senior in sight or reviewing their past movements. A major drawback to this camera is that few rooms in a home allow unhindered views in every direction making it impossible to utilize the entire field of vision.
Where to install security cameras
Because the security and wellbeing of an elderly loved one are uppermost, it is alright to trust your instincts, but it is also important to ask some tough questions. Where does the elderly loved one need security cameras? Where in the home is the senior most vulnerable to internal or external hazards? Are there areas in the home that are prone to accidents, slips, and falls, or break-ins? The goal should be to thoroughly understand the home and become qualified to determine the best way to keep the senior loved one at home and safe from accidents and intrusions.
Some common areas in the home generally pose a greater hazard for the elderly are:
- Stairways: Stairways are the leading cause of accidents and injuries in a home. Interior wooden stairs can be particularly dangerous for slipping on liquids or by wearing socks. A monitoring camera can help ensure that the loved one follows safe practices, such as always using the hand rails. While anyone can misplace a foot, holding the handrail can reduce falls and their impact. But it should be noted that the camera itself is only going to show you if someone has fallen. Making stairs safer or blocking them off if not needed daily is the most important “step.”
- Kitchen: The kitchen is a potential cause of fires in a home from cooking and use of electrical appliances. The senior person may forget to turn off a stove or electrical device. A security camera increases the chance that these potentially dangerous situations are caught before they occur. It will additionally confirm that the senior was making breakfast or dinner. New appliances on the market can reduce the potential danger from a fire and is something that should also be considered if cognitive decline is an issue.
- Front and back doors: Front and back doors are good locations for security cameras because they monitor a loved one’s entry and exit can observe possible intruders. Studies show that about one-third of burglars enter through the front door, while about 22% enter through the back. The camera should be out of place sign and out of reach of persons. It should also be protected from projectiles, like rocks and sticks. A peephole camera would also help a senior loved one see persons at the door before it is opened.
Where to mount a home camera
A home security camera may be placed in strategic locations throughout a home and hidden. Hiding a camera is usually done if you want to monitor caregiver employees to prevent abuse (they can not be put in private areas such as a bathroom or a bedroom). Mountable security cameras may be placed on walls and ceilings. A standalone camera can provide greater flexibility and be placed on desks and shelves. Ideally, the cameras can work together in a system to record video and transmit it to a monitor displaying the resulting footage.
Choices for an in-home camera
Picture quality has improved and monitors now receive high-resolution footage from a home camera. Recording devices may also be linked to a camera system to permanently record transmitted footage for future viewing.
Every home has distinct needs, and finding the right camera may take time. Some of our favorite solutions are: Nest, Brickhouse Security and Reolink, and they provide a wide selection of home security cameras, such as wireless PTZ cameras and smart cameras with add-on features, including alarm systems and GPS trackers. These companies employ experts who can guide families and caregivers on optimal solutions for senior persons based on the particular circumstances and living environment.
Audio capabilities in home security cameras can provide useful benefits. Visual monitoring of an elderly loved one is helpful, but the added ability to conduct two-way verbal communications can immeasurably help the senior, family and caregiver. The senior can receive verbal guidance with home appliances, movements around the home, performing daily tasks and several other things. All this enhances the life of a senior and makes it more secure and easier. Speakers on the cameras may be connected to an app on a mobile phone to allow real-time communication with the senior living at one’s home.
Using monitoring cameras does not directly enhance the security and safety of a senior loved one’s home but provides the family and caregiver a greater (and comforting) ability to observe and interpret events in the daily life of a senior. It can also be comforting to the senior to know they’re not alone and, in the case of two-way cameras, can provide a virtual social outlet for an elderly loved one.