Can you recommend some good home video monitoring devices that can help my sister and me keep an eye on our elderly mother? Over the holidays, we noticed that her health has slipped a bit, and would like to keep a closer eye on her. There are many great video monitoring cameras that can help families keep a watchful eye on an elderly parent from afar, but make sure it’s okay with your mom first. Many seniors find this type of “I’m watching you” technology to be an invasion of privacy, while others don’t mind and even welcome the idea. With that said, here are some top monitoring devices for keeping tabs on your mom.
Video Monitoring As the technology has improved and the costs have come down, video monitoring/surveillance cameras have become very popular for keeping an eye on a home, business, child or pet (designed to connect to a smartphone, tablet or computer), but they also work well for monitoring a loved one who lives alone. Most home video monitoring cameras today are sleek. They are small and easy to set up, but do require home Wi-Fi. Although camera capabilities will vary, the best devices all provide wide-view angles, HD quality video, night vision, built-in motion and sound detection that can notify you when something is happening, and two-way audio that let’s you talk and listen. These cameras offer a video recording option (for an extra fee) that saves past video to a cloud, so you can rewind and review what you missed. One of the best products available today that does all this and more is the Nest Cam (nest.com). The Nest Cam costs $199, but if you want their video recording option, it’s an extra $100 per year for a 10-day video history, or $300/year for a 30 day history. Also check out the Piper NV (getpiper.com). At $279 it is more expensive than the Nest Cam but allows free Internet cloud storage. The Simplicam (simplicam.com) is another option. It is the cheapest of the three, but the video quality isn’t quite as good. The cost is $150 for the camera, or $200 for the camera plus 24-hour video storage for one year.
Sensor Monitoring If your mom is uncomfortable with video monitoring and doesn’t want you to be able to peek in on her whenever you want, another less invasive option to consider is a “sensor” monitoring system. These systems use small wireless sensors (not cameras), which can be placed in key areas of your mom’s home. These sensors can detect changes in activity patterns and will notify you via text message, email or phone call if something out of the ordinary is happening.
A great company that offers this technology is Silver Mother (sen.se/silvermother), which provides small sensors that you attach to commonly used household objects like a pillbox, refrigerator door, TV remote, front door, etc. For example, if your mom didn’t pick up her pillbox to get her medicine or didn’t open the refrigerator door to make breakfast like she usually does, or if she left the house at a peculiar time you would be notified and could check on her. You could also check up on her anytime you want online or through their mobile app. Silver Mother costs $299 for four sensors, and does not charge ongoing monthly service fees. Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070. Published January 15, 2016