I have noticed that very few of the grandmas I meet are current with their self-defense training. Making sure mom does not trip on the bathroom rug is hard enough. How do we protect her from thieves, and worse?
The single most effective way to protect an elderly person living alone is to make them an undesirable target. The best break-in is the one that never happens. If a break-in does occur, then alarms, cameras and panic buttons should supplement any weapons mom might decide to use.
Learn some of the many simple things you can do to make a house unattractive to a burglar. Next, get an overview of the alarm options you will have when you shop for a system to protect mom’s house. We will look at Frontpoint Security’s monitoring and panic alarm functions as an example.
Preventing the Danger Before it Starts
The best outcome is to prevent the dangers in the first place. It is easier to dissuade a criminal from robbing your mom’s home than it is to get her to move away from an earthquake-prone area. Each threat has its own prevention profile.
Preventing Home Invasions
Developers created our neighborhood about 35 years ago. Three doors down, our schoolteacher neighbors have two toddlers. The little ones who have not started school yet. During the week, the neighbors take their kids to the grandparents’ home. The whole family stays over at Grandma’s throughout the week. This way, the parents are closer to work. The grandparents watch the kids. In the 35 years that people have lived in this neighborhood, the only robbery was of the schoolteachers’ home. The burglars found an unoccupied home, so they robbed it.
Simple changes would have kept intruders away. These are the same changes an elderly person can make to her home to stop home invasions before they start.
Home Changes that Prevent Break-Ins
- Trim the hedges. Never allow plants to block windows.
- Keep the lights on outside. Leave them on, or use motion activation lights.
- Put curtains, shades or stickers (stained glass or frosting) on the garage windows, first floor windows and basement windows to prevent showing off attractive items.
- Put up a solid fence around the property.
- Never leave ladders outside. Burglars know how to use them.
- If an expensive grill is outside, put a cover over it.
- Remove tree limbs that lead into upstairs windows.
- Lock your cars.
- Add gas tank locks to your cars.
- Put random timers on some interior lights.
- Play a TV or radio near the front door, even if you are not home.
- Lock the windows and doors.
- Add a sticker to the front door that says “This house protected by an alarm.”
- Do background checks on household help.
- Install dummy or real outdoor cameras. Real cameras are better, but dummy ones do scare off some intruders.
Responding to Home Invasions
Mom can scream at an intruder, but it would be more effective if an automatic alarm called the police for her. The simplest alarm makes a racket when someone opens a window or door. Some alarms call the police. Some shoot video, even in the dark.
I have used SimpliSafe and can recommend it. However, we had many false positives. A cricket kept setting it off. The police charged us $75 for each false alarm.
ADT and Brinks are big names. Nest is probably good, but I would never recommend them because they “forgot” to tell people they had put a microphone in their alarms. See After a big privacy backlash, Google’s Nest explains which of its products have microphones and why.
The Frontpoint Security key code pad, motion sensors, window and door monitors are all peel-and-stick. As someone who never gets the drill bit the right size to hang anything, I appreciate that.
There Frontpoint options include cameras, smart lights, doorbell cameras, smart locks, smoke and heat sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, flood sensors, keyless remotes, a keychain remote, a “panic pendant,” smart lights, automatic lights, and a garage door monitor that automatically closes the garage door at times you designate.
The panic pendant is a wireless, handheld transmitter. Hold the button two full seconds to summon the police.
The control panel has three separate panic buttons so that you get the right agency to respond. Press the cross in a medical emergency. Press the shield to ask for the police. Press the flame to report a fire.
The Frontpoint system is “smash proof.” The signal for help goes through even if the intruder smashes the keypad.
Frontpoint uses cellular networks and the home’s wireless signals. Intruders cannot defeat the system by cutting the landline wires.
Frontpoint is smart enough to know when something does not happen. Set a disarm event for Tuesdays at 3pm, when you expect the cleaner to arrive. When your cleaning person disarms the alarm, all is well. However, if she does not disarm the alarm, the system sends you a “no-show” message
Frontpoint Safe Home Everyday Package
Frontpoint packages start at $99 before monthly monitoring costs. The hardware price is dependent on your entering into a three-year monitoring contract. Without that commitment, the package costs $529. The smallest package includes a hub/keypad, 3 door and window sensors, two motion sensors, a yard sign, five window decals, and a door sticker.
Frontpoint Safe Home Plus Package
The Safe Home Plus is the same as the Same Home Everyday Package, with one substitution. You get two glass-break monitors instead of two motion sensors. The $99 price depends on your entering into a three-year security-monitoring contract.
Frontpoint Safe Home Select Package
Safe Home Select includes the hub/keypad, 4 window and door sensors, two motion sensors, a glass break sensor, a smoke and heat sensor, a yard side, five window decals, and a door sticker. The price is $251.90 with a three-year contract.
More Safe Home Packages
You get more hardware as the package price increases. Customize hardware packages or create an order from scratch. Get enough window/door sensors for the basement and first floor; add in the second floor window sensors for more comprehensive protection.
Two Panic Button for Elder Emergencies
Both the panic pendant and the keychain remote contain “send help right now” panic buttons.
You press the panic pendant button for 2 seconds, or press the keychain remote Lock and Unlock buttons at the same time for 3 seconds.
The button triggers a call to the monitoring service. An operator then calls you to confirm the panic alert. They will call the appropriate agency if you do not pick up the phone, or you do pick it up and confirm the alert.
The panic button just summons help. The keychain remote summons help, and it controls the alarm system as well. It can arm and disarm the alarm, and control the smart lights attached to the system.
You can get multiple key chains and panic buttons to store in strategic areas of the home. Unless you actually carry the alert on your person, there is always a chance it will be too far away to use.
Stop intrusions before they start. If that fails, give mom an alarm system. All alarm systems detect window and door break-ins. The elderly-protection component is the panic alarm. Get an alarm with a portable device mom can press when she needs help.
People Also Ask
How can I check in on my mother when I am away from her home? Depending on your mother’s need for privacy, you might use a security camera that displays on your mobile phone. The hard part is wiring a set of cameras to be able to look in on all the places mom might be in the home. While you can get wireless cameras, they not as reliable as cameras that work over a wire. Power Over Ethernet (POE) carries both the power and the internet signal in one wire. Otherwise, wired cameras need two wires for the power and signal. Wireless is still better than no cameras at all.
Do alarm companies offer an elderly wandering GPS tracker? LifeStation offers an affordable medical call button service with a “Find My Loved One” GPS service. First, you setup an emergency contact list with caregivers who will check in on the loved one. At any time, the caregiver can send a text to the device. The device replies with its coordinates, including a link to Google Maps.