Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Watching" Elderly

I recently completed a project for a friend to help in the care of his elderly mother. The goal was to increase his family's awareness of his mothers condition and safety. I was very apprehensive about many aspects of this project. However, I found the results to be very rewarding for me as well as the end user.

A little background. The client has parents in their 80's. He has 2 siblings that are both not in the area. He has two young adult children who help in care giving. Up until this year, they lived independently in a single home. His father conditioned worsened and he needed full time care. They moved his father to a care facility 1 1/2 hours from his home. Mom stayed home. They hired nursing to come in daily and care for mom. Things began to unwind and the nursing option stopped. He called me to provide guidance on how we could use video to enhance the care of mom. Remote access was the most important aspect of the project. Also, low light vision was very important. My concerns; privacy, privacy, privacy.

So, I read alot, tested alot and listened. Here was my conclusion.

This type of technology is priceless for anyone in this position. The trauma of removing a loved one from their home can mean an instant decline in health. The mental stress of the caretakers can break even the strongest of wills. What surveillance provides is additional support when utilized efficiently. It narrows down the possibilities of "what" happened. It cuts down on response time when there is a problem. It allows those who are not close to participate in the care giving. The privacy concerns I had were easily managed by selective placement of cameras as well as careful administration of control. On the economic side, systems can range in price from $1000.00 up. Web sales of 4 camera systems are as low as $299. I have found, however, that a solid mid range system should be around $2500.00 installed. From my perspective, this is a very low cost alternative to enhanced outside care giving.

The system I just completed was a basic 4 camera system. Two indoor IR cameras, and two outdoor IR cameras. The interiors cameras are positioned in the bedroom and kitchen. These are the two high traffic areas. They were postioned strategically to capture areas where falls had taken place. We also added some plastic gates in hallways to limit access to monitored areas. The two outdoor cameras capture the entrances and driveway. The DVR is connected to a television in the living room for live monitering when someone is at the house. The DVR is also accessible via any internet capable device. You can view live streams from the cameras or search back for footage. Based on the setting currently used we can capture 45 days of 24hr video.

When I first started dabbling in video surveillance it was based on enabling a heightened level of security on my property. I am learning that the operational management side of this technology may be of more value.

More to come.