Outdated technology and unreliable hardware have made some traditional home security setups tough to live with, especially for older adults. Inconvenient wall-mounted control panels can be difficult to access in a hurry if you have limited mobility, and many old-style systems feature small controls and clumsy interfaces that can be especially frustrating for arthritic hands.
Thankfully, the recent wave of smart home innovations (including those from your local cable company) has brought many new products and technologies to the marketplace that make it easier than ever to secure your home. Here are some of the best upgrades to make your home safer, and an all-around better place to live.
1. Video DoorbellsHome security starts at the front porch, and one of the best smart gadgets on the market is a simple upgrade to a common household feature: the doorbell. Products like the Skybell WiFi Video Doorbell and the August Doorbell Camera can provide an excellent first line of defense to your home that is surprisingly easy to use and install.
Simply remove the old doorbell button, attach a few small wires and connect the unit to your home’s Wi-Fi. This simple 10-minute project will provide you with a motion-detecting video feed of visitors and deliveries, all visible via a mobile app on your phone.
With this system in place, seniors can easily screen visitors without ever having to make their way to the door — which means being able to dismiss solicitors through your television, smart phone or tablet, without even getting up.
2. Smart Garage Door SystemsUpgrading your garage door opener is probably the last thing you think of when you contemplate home security, but seniors may find today’s smart garage sensors to be a huge help in keeping their homes safe.
Systems like MyQ from Chamberlain and other similar products connect a few simple sensors in the garage to a smart home hub, giving users wireless control over their garage doors from inside their home, or even from afar. The app makes it simple to close a forgotten open door while you’re lying in bed or away visiting family. Many cases of theft are due to something as simple a homeowner leaving a garage door open overnight, and this simple tool can help prevent that from happening.
3. Smart Sensors and CamerasOlder adults looking for more traditional ways of securing their homes may be happy to learn that the clunky security products of the past have been replaced with smarter, more reliable solutions that are much easier to install. Visit your local hardware store or talk to your internet service provider or cable company, and you’ll discover some excellent home security kits that operate with battery-powered sensors instead of wires.
You can place these cameras and sensors throughout your home in a matter of minutes, or have the installation done for you by a professional. Use the products in conjunction with a wireless wall panel, or even as part of an all-inclusive smart home hub that you can control through a mobile app on your phone.
These systems are effective on their own, but they’re especially useful when you throw a few indoor and outdoor smart cameras into the mix. Outdoor cameras can give you an early alert to unexpected visitors (whether you’re at home or away), and indoor cameras can provide a valuable safety net of additional security and comfort, as many include temperature and air quality sensors, too.
4. Video IntercomsVideo intercom systems, like the Nucleus Video Intercom and several models of the Amazon Echo, now feature audio and video calling that make communicating across large homes more manageable. This easy-to-use technology can be a big help to older folks who may have difficulty hearing family members calling to them from other rooms.
As convenient as these tools are, they also include a few additional features that can be particularly valuable to seniors in emergencies. Most of these products feature voice-activated calling, and some can even send and receive calls from sources outside of the home. This gives seniors a critical lifeline in the event of a fall emergency, and it allows trusted loved ones to check in through a live video feed. The best part? They’re also great for video chatting with the grandkids.
Maybe your home came with a built-in security system, or you installed one yourself many years ago, but that doesn’t mean you need to tie yourself to a frustrating setup you’ve wrestled with for years. Newer systems can do what’s called a “take over” of an existing system and offer a few smart (and inexpensive) upgrades that can dramatically improve the comfort and safety of your home.
Eric Murrell is a software developer and technology contributor to XFINITY Home. He enjoys sharing tips on how people can benefit from incorporating smart home automation and security in their homes on his blog At Home in the Future.