Home Monitor System – Yes or No?


by Joy Loverde

Room monitor systems have been around for years in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Now the same technology is coming home to you. Why are so many families opting for this family caregiver tool? Because most of us don’t live under the same roof and we spend a lot of time worrying if Mom and Dad are safe and sound. Home technology systems are making it easier for family caregivers to sleep at night.

An increasingly transient and technology-friendly world means supportive family members are making greater use of coordinated, centralized computer networks to observe, respond to and communicate with elders, professional caregivers and medical staff. By installing in-home video cameras and sensor-type monitor systems, family caregivers are receiving images and data by way of computers, cell phones and other devices.

If the concept of using technology and home monitor systems to help supplement your caregiving responsibilities appeals to you, be aware that your elders may not initially welcome the idea. Privacy is a big issue. Most people don’t want anyone looking over their shoulder, and the fear of others knowing that help is needed is reason enough for them to be close-minded.

No one likes the ‘big-brother” feeling that comes with the thought of being watched and monitored. If you are a family caregiver, proceed cautiously when bringing up the sensitive idea of installing a home monitor system in your parents’ home. There’s a real good chance that the first time you bring up the topic, your elders will most likely resist your suggestion. If they say “No way,” respond with, “OK. Let’s drop it for now.”  You’ve planted a seed of an idea, and give it a rest for a couple of weeks.

Do what you can to let them know that at some point it's not about privacy but about being connected and maintaining a safe and secure living environment. Home monitor systems provide family caregivers an opportunity to observe loved ones at home and be alerted to eldercare situations which require attention. The goal is to respond to the person in a timely manner and avert problematic situations.

Video cameras observe movements and activities, relays visual information of dangerous situations, record completion of necessary activities (like taking, getting out of bed in the morning, and eating meals). Cameras also keep tabs on in-home care providers to ensure the care is appropriate.

Home sensor systems are less intrusive than video cameras. Sensors send alarm when a person needs immediate attention. Family caregivers receive alerts via e-mail, beeper, and phone.

A keyword search on your Internet browser will turn up companies that provide this service. Type: home monitor system, home sensors, smart home.