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Home Security Systems: What to Look For and What to Avoid

While older adults are less likely to be victims of violent crimes, they are more susceptible to nonviolent crimes such as fraud and theft, particularly home burglary. Particularly, if you live alone, the right home security system will surely guarantee peace of mind, protecting both your home and its precious inhabitants. To help you in your buying journey, let’s take a look at what to keep in mind when selecting a home security system.

Home Security System Features for Seniors

The best home security systems are a high-involvement purchase, hence you will need to find the right mix of features and prices that will best suit your lifestyle, budget, and home. Do you need a basic burglar alarm that will sound an alert should someone try to enter the home? Or are you interested in a wireless monitoring system that will notify the police and fire departments should a problem arise? What about protection against environmental dangers, such as carbon monoxide and fire? Maybe you’re looking for something even more sophisticated, such as visual real-time monitoring via your smartphone, giving you a glimpse into your living room or backyard.

ADT home security video camera.
ADT monitoring

No matter which one you end up choosing, make sure that its coverage area and connectivity options (landline, Wi-Fi, and cellular) are top of the line. It would also be prudent to choose an option that is powered by both Wi-Fi and cellular network. Additionally, you’ll want to choose a system that has at least a few entry sensors for the doors and windows, a powerful siren, and a motion sensor. This sort of combo is the bare minimum required to safeguard your home from theft, especially considering 93 percent of crime faced by older people is property crime. Most brands also allow users to buy and add-on extra sirens, panic buttons, freeze sensors, water sensors, and smoke detectors.

Note: Many home security brands offer complimentary access to apps through which you may receive live footage, control your system remotely, and get notified whenever alarms go off.

Another important factor to keep in mind is the quality of professional monitoring services. This is usually an add-on service. Whenever the security alarm is triggered, the monitoring staff will check-up on you. In case of an emergency, they will ensure that help is facilitated by a dedicated and compassionate emergency response team. In many cases, you can buy just the system without the monitoring, thus doing away with long-term contracts.

Most of these devices have an up-front cost starting at $49 and a monthly monitoring fee starting at $4.99. If you are unsure about which home security system to choose, look for brands that have at least a one month trial period with no strings attached. With this money-back trial, you can freely experiment with home security brands and choose the one that best suits your needs. Here are a few options that are available in the market today, that would really meet the requirements of older adults:

Home Security Systems for Seniors

BrandNest SecureLifeShield Smart Home Security KitHoneywell Smart Home Security Starter KitFrontPoint Safe HomeSimpliSafe Home Security SystemVivint Smart HomeADT Pulse
Upfront cost (starts at)$499$99$449$99$229$99$49
Monthly charges (start at)$24.99$20$4.99$34.99$14.99$39.99$28.99
Professional installation
Cellular powered
Battery backup
Monitoring contract required
Environmental Sensors
Voice Assistant Compatibility
Money-back trial (days)3030303060na180

DIY Versus Professional Home Security

One of the biggest reasons to choose a DIY system, such as SimpliSafe, over professional home security is for the savings on both installation and subscription fees. Since they are easy to install on your own, as the category name suggests, there is no need to pay for professional home security installers. Additionally, the monitoring service tends to be about 40 percent cheaper than what is offered by professionally installed systems. DIY systems are a great option if you are physically fit and able to go about fitting the cameras, sensors, and keypads onto different parts of the house. Most DIY brands don’t require contracts either, which means you are not bound to continue with monitoring plans if they don’t suit your requirements. Since DIY systems are easy to install and uninstall (no wires), they’re perfectly suited for rented spaces.

SimpliSafe Home Security
SimpliSafe Home Security System

On the other hand, if you have no budgetary constraints, I would totally recommend a professionally installed home security brand such as ADT. It’s great for older adults who have limited mobility or do not feel confident enough to take the risk of handling power tools, climbing ladders, or fiddling with small parts of the system. A professional home security brand also eliminates the hassle of setting-up your high-end system, especially in big homes. Their trained installers, following a security assessment, will know exactly where to place each security device for maximum functionality. Furthermore, they will take the time to explain how to use the system post-installation, which can be really helpful for technologically-averse older adults.

Top Tip: Professional installation can cost up to $150, so be sure to budget for it.

At the end of the day, whether DIY or not, be sure to choose a reputable service provider with a solid track record and plenty of positive customer feedback.

Types of Home Security Systems

Typically, your home security system’s network of sensors, cameras, and a base unit connects to the outside world via either Wi-Fi and cellular signals or landline (hard-wired). Whenever a security breach is detected, a hard-wired security system will send updates to emergency responders or contacts. ADT Home Security and Protect America are examples. On the other hand, wireless systems, such as those offered by Vivint and Frontpoint, will make use of the cellular connection or Wi-Fi to reach out for help.

Type of home securityWhat we likeWhat we don’t like
Wi-Fi with Cellular Backup
  • Professional installation optional
  • Well suited to renters, as it’s easy to install and uninstall
  • More reliable than hard-wired systems
  • Monitoring more expensive than wired by $10-$20 per month
Hard-Wired
  • Usually more affordable than cellular
  • Perfect for remote regions where cellular coverage is choppy
  • Professional installation needed
  • Running wire make it more expensive to install than cellular
  • Usually not compatible with home automation

How Does Monitoring Work?

According to the APA, 26% of Americans 65 and older live alone. To help them retain their independence and feel safe at home, it’s best to subscribe to a 24/7 professional monitoring that works in tandem with the home security system.

While the home security system’s siren will alert occupants of the household in case of an intruder, external support can be attained by subscribing to a professional monitoring service. With this service, your system will be able to notify the monitoring center should the sensors detect any intruders or environmental anomalies. Next, a trained security expert may attempt to communicate with you if your base system has a 2-way voice communication feature. Finally, once they gauge the situation, they will call the emergency contact number listed on the user’s account, or the police, paramedics, or fire department. On average this service costs $10 to $60 per month, but there exist some systems where live monitoring comes completely free.

FYI: Along with professional monitoring, many brands offer cellular backup and/or storage of the security footage.

For those on a budget, many home security companies offer up the option of self-monitoring your system. This means that you will need to keep track of alarms and contact authorities on your own. Such local alarms are not recommended for homes inhabited by older adults as there can be instances where the older person is incapacitated or unable to call for help.

Home Security and Smart Homes

You don’t have to be a tech savant to enjoy home automation. Especially for those with limited mobility, it can be convenient to control lighting, temperature, health monitoring systems, and alarm systems with just a few voice commands. If you are looking for a system that seamlessly marries home security with automation then look no further than the likes of Vivint. This wire-free system keeps your home safe from security breaches and environmental hazards. It also syncs with smart home assistants such as Google Home and Alexa to fully automate and control your home.

Other home security brands such as Nest Secure and Ring offer home automation features that can help older adults with limited mobility execute daily tasks, while also keeping them safe. Home security systems can be a boon for older adults, many of whom suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s and end up leaving faucets running or forgetting to switch off stovetops or ovens. A smart security system can learn your everyday schedule and even help in big savings in your utility bills. For example: automatically turn off the thermostat when you step out for your evening walk or switch off all lights at home past 9 pm every day. It can also sync with smart health-monitoring systems to track the older person’s vital stats and respond to medical emergencies quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions about Home Security Systems

  • Can home security systems also be triggered in case of a fall?

    Some brands sell panic buttons that can be wall-mounted or built into keyfobs and pendants. These can be used in case of a fall or security threat. Once pressed, the alarm will sound, and the emergency services will also be contacted.

  • Why do older adults need a home security system?

    Having a state-of-the-art home security system that is properly synced with relevant sensors and cameras can go a long way towards safeguarding from the hazards of burglary, fire, and burst pipes. The moment any of the sensors are triggered, a siren will sound alerting the home’s inhabitants about the threat. In case you have purchased the professional monitoring plan, the emergency responders will also be alerted.

  • What is the purpose of window stickers and yard signs retailed by most home security system companies?

    By advertising that your home is fitted with a home security device that can foil their attempts, you will dissuade intruders from even attempting to trespass. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to buy such window stickers and yard signs for your home.

  • How much do home security systems cost?

    A new home security system costs between $49 and $499 paid upfront. Some brands also retail refurbished systems at a discounted rate. Additionally, you should be ready to invest between $4.99 to $39.99 per month for the professional monitoring service.

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28 Comments

  1. Today, the best ways to protect your home are smart security systems. I installed a wireless system from Kangaroo a year ago at my house. I chose this system due to the fact that it is wireless, it works through a wi-fi network and has its own application on the phone, with which I can monitor my home. And for the price I really liked, I distorted not expensive but high-quality protection.
  2. I am a forner Adt employee Two things to caution you about. One is all service techs and installers are given an up sell quota . They have to do what they can to meet these numbers or risk job loss and discipline. Therfore are forced to sell based on quota rather than need. Also they are currently charging 39.00-99.00 to upgrade the cell communication on your alarm due to changing cell tower technology. The problem is , this occurred several years ago and they charged nothing . Refuse to pay it and they will be forced to change at no charge to retain customers.
  3. The growth of the home security system market is attributed to the emergence of IoT and wireless technologies, and increasing customer awareness . Moreover, the integration of AI and deep learning in home security systems and worldwide proliferation of “smart cities” initiatives are creating huge growth opportunities for players in the market. The home security system market is expected to reach USD 74.75 billion by 2023 from USD 45.58 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 10.40%
  4. I really appreciate your tip to evaluate your lifestyle and think if any of your family members will incur any false alarm charges. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new security system since our neighbor’s house got broken into. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and check with our kids to see how responsible they would be with an alarm in the house!
  5. As suggested, I’ll be sure to allow myself enough time to do my research and shop around for professional residential security system installation services before making a decision. If I were to invest in such a system, I want to be sure that I am getting my money’s worth. Thanks for this really informative article about home security systems!
  6. My wife and I just moved to a new home, so we want to install a security system soon. I like your point about evaluating your lifestyle to figure out what kind of system you need. We’ll be sure to check out our home’s current features so we know what to shop for.
  7. I like what you said about understanding your needs. My wife and I are finally deciding it’s time to get a security system because we’ve been noticing some odd activity around the neighborhood and we just want to feel safer in our home. It’s also good to know if our teenagers are bringing any people over without us knowing and we just want to make sure and be on the lookout for anything suspicious going on. We’ll have to contact a security installation company that can help us get this figured out.
  8. Deciding among different types of alarm systems can be a daunting task. Thank you for making it easier and things I should consider before buying a home security system.
  9. I’m in the market for a new security alarm company, and I think that being able to get some tips would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to get the contract and read the fine print. I’m going to have to look for a few good options and see what we can find!
  10. I found your suggestions very reassuring and incredibly common-sense-useful! Don’t give burglars any information about your alarm company, since it can be used to bypass your system. Instead, just post general alarm or monitoring signs.
  11. Noted! I’ll bookmark this when my husband gets home. I’ve been meaning to ask him for us to have a home security system. I’m also looking up some professionals who will provide this service. I’m going to ask him later. Wish me luck!
  12. My husband and I have decided to get an alarm control system since another house in the neighborhood suffered was robbed from. So thank you for suggesting that we give ourselves a lot of time to look at companies’ customers’ review so we can find the best company for us. We’ll be sure to make sure the alarm control system we use also has a great record with people.
  13. Very informative article. I strongly agree that choosing the right home security system really depends upon the need of the person. Someone chooses a simple burglar alarm while others go for smart home automation devices.
  14. It really does help to take the article’s advice and take your lifestyle into consideration when choosing a home alarm system. After all, if you have a lot of dogs that might need to go out early in the morning or late at night, then you might want to choose an alarm that you don’t have to disarm every time you open the door. If you’re not sure what kind of alarm to get, then talk to the company you’re buying from and see what they suggest would best match your lifestyle.
  15. Thank you for talking about choosing a security system based on your lifestyle. It makes sense that understanding this can help you make sure get the protection you need and get the responses you need. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to make sure they consult with several companies and compare their services before choosing one.
  16. Thanks for your point about how some people want a more sophisticated home security system, while other are happy with a simple alarm on the door. I feel like knowing what you want is the best way to make sure that you get it. It would also make sense to me to ask some of your like-minded friends to see if they have any thoughts on the options available.
  17. In our world today, it can be really difficult to trust anybody. My husband and I are looking to put a security system in our house to protect our family. I hadn’t thought of how lifestyle would affect what alarm system to choose, but as you said, knowing who is coming in and out of the house can affect which system you need. Thanks for sharing!
  18. Thanks for explaining what to look for in a home security system. I like that you mention evaluating your lifestyle. It makes sense that your alarm system should cater to how you live your life. There have been some break-ins in our area, so I definitely want something that can protect me and my family from any burglars. I also think it would be important to look for a fire alarm system. Hopefully, I can find a good company that will help me pick the right system.
  19. In your article, you stated that just under 80 percent of homeowners believe that their home security systems are effective, according to a Consumer Reports survey. My wife called me last night on my way home from work because someone was trying break into our house. I wonder if these types of systems can be installed in any type of house.
  20. I like your idea on understanding your needs when looking at home security. I would imagine that knowing exactly what you need would be really important when getting a system. I’m looking for a home security system so I’ll have to figure out my needs before I choose one.
  21. You advised considering your lifestyle before making a decision on a security system. My brother has been wanting to get a security system installed in his home for a while. He has quite a few kids who come in and out of his home a lot, so finding a system that can easily accommodate that will be a high priority. Thanks for the great read.
  22. I had a neighbor who recently had a break in in their home, so we want to make sure that our home is protected. I like how you point out that we should calculate our needs before choosing a security system. We will have to decide if we want something that will notify the police and fire department should a problem arise. I think that it would also help us to have better rates on home insurance. I imagine that the fact that we even have a security system will possible help prevent break-ins.
  23. I like the reminder in the article to take your time and do enough research and comparison between providers. It might be good to look into what other features could be added to your service in the future so that you can plan ahead a little. Investing in a home security system can provide the peace of mind that make your house a home again after an emergency.
  24. Your comment about understanding your needs before looking to buy a security system made a lot of sense to me. I didn’t realize there were so many options, but I can see how for one persona a burglar alarm might do the trick while another might prefer a full smart-home makeover. I would imagine that most security companies would be willing to discuss advantages of each of their different options with you.
  25. My wife has been asking me to get a new security system for a while. There are a lot of options, so it is easy for us to get overwhelmed while searching for the right one. I never thought about making sure that a security system fits with our lifestyle. We have teenagers who I imagine wouldn’t always be the best at turning the system on and off as they come and go. I’ll keep that in mind as I search for a new security system.
  26. Thank you so much for all this helpful information about choosing a security system. It makes sense that you should look at your lifestyle, and decide if you need one. It would be nice to see how we would benefit from one.
  27. My wife and I have been wanting to get a security system for a while now. It’s just hard to decide what we need, so thanks for the tips. It’s good to know that cost isn’t always the deciding factor, and that we shouldn’t just go for the cheapest.
  28. I think it is so important that people know to read the fine print when signing your contract. I am lucky my apartment building has it’s own security system, which really helps me feel safe. When buying a home I will make sure to invest in a security system that fits my needs.

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