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The Case For Installing Cameras In Your Elderly Parent’s Home

Photo: "Smile! You're on camera"

Should You Use a Video Monitoring Camera System?

Cameras and recordings are simply a way to get more information in a changing situation. Cameras can help you answer questions such as:

  • Is going down the stairs more of a problem than your parent tells you?
  • Is your parent using the stove properly?
  • Are they eating properly?
  • Are medications being taken?
  • Are they using oxygen as instructed?

Benefits of Adding a Monitoring System

  • Audio cameras allow you to actually talk with your parent and the caregiver.
  • The ability to track movements in and out of rooms.
  • Advertising a camera system can thwart break ins.
  • Most systems allow for live viewing on the internet or your smart phone.
  • Determine if level of care is appropriate, or if more care is needed.

Using Cameras with In-Home Caregivers

Even if you have a caregiver for your parents, a video monitoring camera system can alert you to necessary changes to their home or the care plan.

Elders with cognitive impairment due to medications, post-hospitalization delirium, dementia or other conditions can be sensitive to change and exhibit moments of confusion and paranoia. In these circumstances, a very few people will lose track of time, place and physical objects, and accuse a caregiver of taking or hiding a valued object.

Cameras in the home are solution to this problem. In fact, many caregivers feel safer and more protected when there is a “recording of record” from the camera system. A video monitoring system protects everyone. If an issue comes up, always reach out to your agency’s care manager.

Learn How to Give Feedback to Your Caregiver

Legal Issues With Video and Audio Recording in Your Home

Laws vary for individual states. Google “recording video [or audio] in home {your state}” to research the legality of using cameras in your state. Read this article on state by state requirements.

  • Most states allow video recording of activity in the home, with an explicit agreement.
  • Explicit agreement is written and signed by both you and the caregiver…What is “Consent?” → When in doubt, get everyone’s (written…) consent to avoid potential problems later. (Consent must be explicit and both parties… eg. caregiver and homeowner must sign a document…)
  • For all states, no video nor audio recording may take place in locations where someone would have an expectation of privacy, such as a bathroom or bedroom. This article explains some of the ethical and legal intricacies of video recording.
  • Using cameras that record audio means you must follow rules for video recording and for audio recording. Most states have separate rules for video vs. audio recording.

Ethical Issues and Privacy When Recording Elders

Cameras can be an invasion of privacy for your parent. Obtain consent from your parent before installing cameras.

Your parent may also be uncomfortable being filmed during intimate tasks such as dressing. Your parent is still an adult, and even with cognitive impairment, would never want to be filmed dressing.

If your parent can not provide legal consent, a family member with legal authority can provide that consent. Using hidden cameras is lawful in many states.

Talk With Your Caregiver About Cameras

Trust and respect are the basis of a good relationship. Knowing that you are being filmed can be awkward. It’s important to have an open and honest dialogue about the reasons for having a camera in the first place. Reassure the caregiver that you trust and appreciate them.

Cameras don’t take the place of good communication. Whether you opt for a camera system or not, stay involved with your parent’s care. Maintain a good working relationship with the agency and the caregivers.

Features to Consider When Buying Monitoring Video Cameras

Home security systems are becoming the norm. A few years ago, they were an anomaly. Technological advances have given consumers numerous options. The choices can be overwhelming and the costs quite high for installation. Doing your research will help you make the best selection for your situation.  To get you started, take a look at this 2018 review of indoor cameras from PC Magazine.

Deciding on a system requires some attention to the details. Consider the following when evaluating features among different systems:

Range of View: Some cameras have limited viewing space. Others have a wider view. Dome cameras have a wider viewing range.
Audio: Not all systems have audio. If this is an important feature for you, make sure you get the right system.
Connectivity: Most systems operate via Bluetooth eliminating the need for wires. However, if the internet system goes down, this could affect connectivity. Some people opt to hard wire their systems to eliminate this problem. A wired system may require a professional installation.
Cost: Check on possible subscription fees in addition to the cost of the system itself.
Extras: Consider these additional extras. Night vision, live stream smart phone app, motion detection, two-way talk.

Deciding whether to install a camera system is not easy. Discuss the possibility with the agency, caregiver and your parent. Approach the subject with an attitude of trust and care.

Resources:

  1. Security Cameras, Ethics and the Law
  2. The Best Security Home Cameras of 2018
  3. Video Surveillance Laws by State: Everything You Need to Know

 

About The Author

Amanda Lambert is the owner and president of Lambert Care Management, LLC which provides care management for older and disabled adults. She is the co-author of, Aging with Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018). She has worked for over 20 years in the senior-related industry including mental health, marketing and guardianship. She has a passion for topics related to health, wellness and resilience as we age.