Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Home Security Systems

Does every older adult need to see who is at the front door? Is an alarm enough? How do the different systems rank?

We thought technology was supposed to make life simpler. Vacuum cleaners and washing machines were an easy yes. Cars have improved in reliability and safety with each passing year. Wi-Fi now is a necessity and not an option. So why is a seemingly simple thing like home security so complicated?

Part of the issue is that different companies are developing technology that may or may not play well with each other. Many older adults have welcomed a voice assistant into their home, but they may balk at learning another system. With more and more baby boomers choosing to age in place, they and their adult children may find a home security system can provide a lot of peace of mind.

Your Needs

There are a slew of systems out there. Google reviews for the various options and you will find adherents of each … and likely wind up more confused than ever. Relax. All of the systems are adequate, so it is nearly impossible to make a bad choice. Read the basics below, then check out your leading contenders online or call the company to verify specifics and ask questions regarding your needs. Here is a sample list:

  • How complicated or easy is it to install?
  • What will the basic version get me?
  • Does it “talk” to the brand of voice assistant I have?
  • Does it require a subscription?
  • How good is the camera?
  • Does it have night vision?
  • How loud is the alarm?
  • Can I talk to people at my door when I’m not at home?
  • Will it work if Wi-Fi is disabled?
  • How much does it cost for the hardware?
  • How much does it cost monthly?
  • Does it integrate with my smart home system?

Most systems have a basic version and a few upgraded models. You will have to decide how many features you want or need. Do you want every main floor window protected, or do you really just want to know if a package has been dropped off? Do you need to be able to review film from the camera, or is it enough to be able to see what is going on in real time? Do you want to be able to control the system with an Echo or other smart speaker, or will you be willing and able to download an app to access control?

Half the battle is to identify what you think you want before you start shopping. Then, you will be able to separate needs from wants and decide if you would like to incorporate any or all of the many add-ons. If you are buying the system for a parent who is quite old or has some cognitive decline, remember to consider what that person may be able to handle over the next few years or check if you can monitor the system remotely.


Google Nest. Originally a smart thermostat, Nest was acquired by Google.  The security doorbell has sharp styling and a high-definition camera with 160 degrees of view, night vision and a microphone. What makes Nest a step above is the 4:3 format that shows visitors from head to toe, regardless of how close they are to the camera. Nest works with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. It also has great video response time and clarity. Nest Aware is the video cloud storage plan.

Ring. Sporting the standard high-def camera with added night vision and microphone, Ring differentiates itself by offering rechargeable batteries so it doesn’t have to be hard-wired to your doorbell. Voice control is available via Amazon or Google assistant, but only Alexa will give you a live video feed, talk to guests, or mimic a doorbell chime on the Ring Video 2 model. Ring Protect provides cloud storage at an extra cost.

SimpliSafe. This system is perhaps the easiest to install for any do-it-yourselfer. It also has an impressively loud 105-decibel alarm that should wake your neighbors even if you are gone. There is no contract to sign; you pay from month to month starting as low as $15. This system does not have all the bells and whistles of many others, but it could be the perfect answer for monitoring a vacation home or empty rental. And its simplicity of use may actually give it a boost with older adults.

ADT.  ADT Security has been in the business a long time and they have earned their good reputation. However, they do require a lengthy 36-month contract for their professional installation and monitoring. Landline users will like the option to integrate with the ADT system.

Vivint. With medical pendant support, Vivint may be the best option for some older adults. Mobile access is available with all plans, and the base model plan does not cost an arm and a leg. However, contracts are for long periods and you have to pony up quite a sum to get a contract-free option.

Abode. Known for having a cost-free self-monitored plan, Abode also offers no-contract professional monitoring if you will be traveling out of cell service. It also works with other devices in your smart home.

Frontpoint. This newer contender does not require a contract in spite of its reputation for great customer service. However, there is no mobile access with the base plan and you may have to pay a higher monthly cost than with some other plans.

Link Interactive. Using some of the same equipment as competitor Frontpoint, Link Interactive offers a short, one-year contract and inexpensive mobile control and video monitoring options. You can also build a custom gear package by picking out exactly the equipment you want.

Click below for the other articles in the February 2020 Senior Spirit

Print Friendly Version