A Guide to Home Security for Aging in Place (2023)

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Table of Contents

  • What Are Home Security Systems, and How Do They Work?
  • Legal Considerations When Placing a Home Security System
  • Why Should Seniors Get a Home Security System?
  • Types of Home Security Systems
  • The Best Professionally Installed Home Security Systems
  • The Best DIY Security Systems
  • The Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems

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A Guide to Home Security for Aging in Place (1)

Living alone can be tough for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for retired seniors who don’t have many opportunities to leave the house. Spending the night alone is particularly stressful, asmany older adults fear crime and worry they won’t be able to get help when they need it. As a result, loneliness, isolation and fear often come together to reduce a senior’s sense of security and make it more difficult to remain at home.

A strong sense of security has been linked to better health outcomes and improved quality of life for older adults, making it critical for family members, friends and neighbors to look for ways to help their older loved ones feel safe and protected. Installing a home security system is one way to accomplish this goal, as each system has a variety of features to help users deter unwanted guests, prevent falls and reduce the risk of crime.

After reading this guide, you’ll understand how home security systems help older adults maintain their sense of security and independence. The guide also includes recommendations for DIY, self-monitored and professionally monitored systems.

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What Are Home Security Systems, and How Do They Work?

Home security systems make it possible to control access to a senior’s home, increasing safety. These systems contain many components, such as motion sensors, door and window alarms, glass-break sensors, security cameras and video doorbells. Modern security systems may even include automated lights, smart thermostats and other devices, giving seniors more control over their environment.

Some of the common components of a comprehensive home security system include:

  • Window alarms: A window alarm sends out an alert any time someone opens a window while a security system is armed. If the system is monitored, the monitoring center also receives an alert, making it easier for them to dispatch emergency services..
  • Door alarms: Like window alarms, door alarms alert household members whenever a door opens while a security system is armed.
  • Motion sensors: A motion sensor goes off any time there’s movement in the monitored area, making it easier to detect intruders.
  • Automated lights: In the United States, older adults sustain about 36 million falls per year. To reduce their risk of falling, many seniors have security systems with automated lights, which turn on and off without a user having to get out of bed or stand up from a seated position.
  • Automated locks: An automated lock makes it possible to lock or unlock a door without using a key.
  • Cameras: When placed in strategic locations, cameras give an older adult a bird’s-eye view of what’s going on around their home. Indoor cameras also make it easier for loved ones to monitor an older adult.
  • Video doorbells: A video doorbell uses a camera and Wi-Fi to alert a senior when someone is approaching their home.
  • Medical alert devices:Medical alert devices make it easier for seniors to get help in an emergency. Some devices connect users with their loved ones, while others are connected to a monitoring center, providing quick access to police, fire and ambulance services.

Legal Considerations When Placing a Home Security System

Home security systems are helpful, but it’s important to balance privacy concerns with the need for enhanced safety. As a result, there are some legal issues to consider before installing one.

Privacy Inside the Home

It’s against the law to record someone without their consent in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That includes bedrooms and bathrooms. Therefore, it’s important to ask a senior for consent before placing cameras in their home.

Laws Regarding Audio/Video Recording

The United States has a federal law known as the Federal Wiretap Act that prohibits recording conversations of the participants if those conversations are believed to be private. Video recording has fewer restrictions, making it easier to protect older adults. For example, several courts have ruled that it’s acceptable to make video recordings of elder care professionals without obtaining their consent beforehand.

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Regulations Governing the Use of Security Systems in Senior Living Communities

Some seniors have private apartments at assisted living facilities or independent living complexes. If a senior lives alone in one of these units, it’s legal to install a video camera as long as they give their consent. Some states also permit family members to install surveillance equipment in a loved one’s nursing home room or assisted living unit.

Why Should Seniors Get a Home Security System?


A Guide to Home Security for Aging in Place (2)

Anyone can benefit from having a home security system, but these systems are especially beneficial for seniors. In some cases, a home security system makes the difference between staying at home and having to move to a nursing home, assisted living community or other senior living facility. Here are a few reasons to consider installing a security system in an older loved one’s home.

Crime Prevention

Older adults are more vulnerable to crimes that cause financial harm. For example, some seniors are the victims of financial abuse, which is when someone misuses or mismanages an older person’s assets.

This type of abuse takes many forms:

  • Stealing cash from a senior’s home
  • Forging an older adult’s signature on a check
  • Opening bank accounts or credit cards in a senior’s name
  • Using a senior’s cash, checks or credit cards without their permission
  • Charging an older adult for products or services they never received

Seniors living alone may also worry about the potential for vandalism, theft, burglary and other crimes.

Many security companies provide window decals or yard signs to alert other people that a home is protected by one of their systems. Displaying one of these items may deter someone from committing a crime on the property, protecting a senior’s personal safety. If a crime does occur, having surveillance footage may make it easier to identify and prosecute the perpetrator.

Assistance During Medical Emergencies

When a senior lives alone, there’s always some concern that they’ll have a medical emergency that’s serious enough to prevent them from calling for help. Falls are especially common, increasing the risk of hip fractures, head injuries and other serious complications. Home security systems make it easier for loved ones to monitor their older family members, reducing the amount of time it takes for a senior to get help in the event of an emergency.

Help with Wandering Behavior

For seniors with dementia, wandering is a common side effect. Some people get confused about where they are, causing them to leave their homes in search of familiar people or places. In fact, about60% of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease will wander at least once.

Installing a home security system helps with wandering because it gives loved ones an easy way to keep track of seniors. If a family member has access to system alerts, they’ll know as soon as an older adult opens the front door. Motion detectors make it possible to determine if a loved one is on the porch, on the sidewalk or somewhere else on the property.

Increased Efficiency

Smart thermostats eliminate the need for an older adult to get up every time they want to adjust the temperature, reducing the risk of falls. These thermostats alsoincrease energy efficiency by giving users more control over their heating and cooling settings. Some models even allow users to create custom settings for each room.

Types of Home Security Systems

“Home security system” is a broad term. Each type of system has different features, giving users access to a variety of services and benefits. The options include do-it-yourself or professional installation, professional monitoring versus self-monitoring and cellular or Wi-Fi versus landline security systems.

DIY Installation vs. Professionally Installed Systems

DIY installation refers to purchasing a home security system and installing it yourself — or having a friend or family member install it for you. A professionally installed system must be set up by a representative from a home security company. The main difference between the two is that professional installation saves you time. If you’re on a budget, however, DIY installation is the more affordable option.



DIY Installation

– Less expensive

– Ability to start with just a few components and then add more as your budget allows

– Easy to move system components from one place to another

– May be difficult for users who aren’t tech-savvy

– Individual components may have their own warranties, but you won’t get one warranty to cover the whole system

Professional Installation

– Complete system warranty available

– Installation service also has a warranty or guarantee in case there are any problems

– Completely customized to your home

– More expensive than DIY installation

– May require the installer to drill into the walls

– Difficult to move system components since they’re typically affixed to walls and other structures

Professionally Monitored vs. Self-Monitored Systems

With a self-monitoring system, the user is responsible for watching the cameras, listening for alerts and summoning help in an emergency. Professionally monitored systems are connected to a monitoring center. Trained agents monitor each system 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, ensuring that a senior has access to assistance if an emergency occurs.




– No additional cost

– More flexibility

– No penalties for false alarms

– No access to a trained professional in the event of an emergency

– Older users may have difficulty seeing camera screens or hearing audio alerts

Professionally Monitored

– Trained agent available 24/7

– Quick access to fire, police and medical services

– Monitoring available, even when the user isn’t home

– Emergency services may respond faster when the call comes from a trained professional

– Monthly fees

– Monitoring company can’t guarantee that emergency services will respond within a certain amount of time

– No guarantee that the monitoring service will work as advertised

Cellular/Wi-Fi vs. Landline Home Security Systems

Cellular security systems use a customer’s cellular signal to connect to the monitoring center, while Wi-Fi systems use wireless internet. A third option is a landline security system, which connects to the monitoring center via a landline telephone. One of the main differences between a cellular or Wi-Fi system and a landline system is that landline alerts take a little more time to reach the monitoring service.




– Easier to install

– Lower installation costs

– More secure

– Compatible with smart thermostats and other advanced system components

– Stops working in the event of an internet or cellular network outage

– Higher monitoring costs


– Works anywhere that has landline telephone service

– Costs less to monitor than a cellular or Wi-Fi system

– May require professional installation

– Doesn’t work if there’s a service disruption

– Alerts take more time to reach the monitoring center

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The Best Professionally Installed Home Security Systems

Of all the professionally installed home security systems on the market, ADT, SimpliSafe and Xfinity offer the best options for seniors. Use the table below to compare prices before reading more about each system.

ADT Video & Smart Home Package

The Foundation by SimpliSafe

Xfinity Pro Protection Plus

Installation Cost

$1,049 to $1,499 (includes equipment)

$244.96 for the system; installation starting at $99

$360 to $600 (includes equipment)

Monthly Monitoring Cost

$57.99 per month

$17.99 to $27.99 per month

$50 per month

ADT Video & Smart Home Package


  • Includes 15 components for comprehensive coverage
  • Digital panel makes it easy to operate
  • Multiple finishes available for the smart door locks
  • Compatible with smart home products from Nest, Google and other companies


  • High monthly monitoring cost
  • Early termination fees if canceling before the end of a contract
  • Some users report billing issues

The Foundation by SimpliSafe



– Ideal for small apartments or units in senior living communities

– Low monthly monitoring fees

– No contracts

– Inexpensive installation fee

– System may disconnect itself from the monitoring center without warning

– Relies on cellular service, which may lead to poor system performance if the user has a weak signal

– Customers must buy all system components (no option to rent)

Xfinity Pro Protection Plus



– Financing options available

– Multiple customization options

– Fully refundable if returned within 30 days

– Requires a monitoring contract

– Not compatible with some smart home devices

The Best DIY Security Systems

DIY security systems tend to be less expensive, making them a popular choice for seniors on fixed incomes. Ring, Abode and Cove offer some of the best options for seniors.

Ring Alarm Pro Security Kit

Abode iota All-in-One Security Kit

Cove Security System

Equipment Cost



Up to $586, depending on the components selected

Monthly Monitoring Cost

$20 per month or $200 per year

$6.99 to $21.99 per month

$17.99 to $27.99 per month

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Ring Alarm Pro Security Kit



– Financing available with 0% interest

– No contract required

– Backup LTE connection to keep the alarm running if the internet goes out

– 24/7 access to a voice-activated emergency helpline

– Local video storage

– Not compatible with HomeKit or Google Assistant

– Some users report connectivity issues

Abode iota All-in-One Security Kit



– Ideal for inexperienced users

– No monitoring contract required

– Compatible with a variety of smart home devices

– Not all features work with mobile app

– Oversized sensors

Cove Security System



– No monitoring contract

– Easy to install

– Monitoring rates can go up at any time

– Must purchase individual components (no prepackaged systems available)

The Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems

A Guide to Home Security for Aging in Place (3)

Not everyone wants to pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring. If you’re one of them, consider a self-monitored system from one of the following companies:

Ring Alarm Security Kit

Arlo Home Security System

Ooma Smart Security Starter Pack

Equipment Cost




Monthly Monitoring Cost




Ring Alarm Security Kit



– Battery backup

– Works with Alexa to deter unwanted visitors

– Glass-break sensors not available

– Oversized sensors

Scout Home Security



– Continuous recording for extra peace of mind

– Multiple camera options

– High-quality sensors

– Smart detection features not included with self-monitored system

– System must be connected to power supply for continuous recording

Ooma Smart Security Starter Pack



– Local 911 support

– Most affordable option

– Package doesn’t include cameras

– Doesn’t integrate with smart home assistants

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