For Safety and Independence: Home Security Tips for Disabled People
One in four US adults has a disability that impacts their major life activities. Creating safe and accessible environments is essential to ensure anyone living with a disability can live comfortably, independently and feel safe in their home.
The aforementioned CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found mobility disabilities are the most common, impacting as many as 1 in 7 adults, and becoming more common with age. The report looked at six different types of disability and these are considerations for anyone looking to create a safe and secure home. In addition to mobility disabilities, it is also important to consider other disabilities such as cognitive, educational, self-care disabilities, independent living difficulties and hearing and sight impairments.
The Vera Institute of Justice reports the rate of serious violent crime against people with disabilities was more than three times higher than the age-adjusted rate for non-disabled people. This figure is shocking but further highlights the need for well-designed and appropriate home security to live with peace of mind and easy access to help if it’s needed.
Technology transforming Security and Support
The notion of the connected home is something we all appreciate. But for people with additional needs and support requirements, it can be life changing. The Internet of Things has made home automation much more straightforward and affordable.
The extent to which IoT devices can transform the lives of those with disabilities, especially people who may previously have been unable to live independently, is vast. A combination of the right devices and settings can provide people with a fully personalized security and health support system. Before looking at the home security options and systems that could support disabled and aging people in their homes, it’s important to first consider each individual situation.
With a reliable internet connection, most homeowners and residents can easily connect together a wide range of different smart devices to create a home that is both secure and accessible as per your individual needs.
Questions to Consider before Home Security Installation
All individual homes and environments are different, as are the occupants and their specific needs. The following questions can help to determine the types of home security and support options you may consider for any home.
1. Disability Outlook
No one wants to consider the progressive nature of many disabilities and diseases but keeping it in mind when putting the right security in place can be cost effective and better for people in the long run. Conditions such as vascular dementia progress over time as the person gains more symptoms, so the security system in place will need to be designed with the long-term in mind rather than their capabilities on the day of installation. Considering the best options for long-term security, comfort and happiness in the home will ensure the most reliable setup.
2. Medical Guidance
Your doctor may have advice and guidance before you make any permanent or significant changes to the home. In some cases, it may be safer and better for all if the individual accesses supported accommodation or facilities rather than making adaptations to their own home and here, a doctor should be able to provide some insight. This is quite closely linked to the outlook of any disability or condition and may help make planning for the future more manageable.
3. Individual Input
If you are advocating or supporting someone else with a disability, then you need to fully take into account their hopes and wishes for their home. People living independently have a right to decide the security measures and support they receive. While you may need to nudge for a little more support in some areas, it is important to take into account the opinions of the people living in the property you’re hoping to modify or enhance with additional security features and devices. Technology allows you to help make a home as secure as possible without being overbearing and can help to maintain a sense of independence for people who may be uncomfortable or concerned by things they cannot do.
4. Privacy Concerns
The installation of any connected smart home devices requires some caution as these devices can attract criminals if not properly installed. To ensure any new security devices are fully secure and safe for use it is important to change the settings and passwords away from the default settings. You should also be careful to ensure the Wi-Fi network is private. Use a strong encryption method such as WPA2 to set up network access. It is important to check each device individually to ensure it is secured. There are specialists in home network security you can contact if you don’t have the experience or know-how to ensure the network is fully secured and private.
Security Devices and Technologies for your Home
The advancement of technology means there is a wide range of ever-evolving home security options and systems available. Looking more closely at different types of security can help in making those all-important final decisions.
Security cameras are among the first things most people think about when considering home security improvements. Security cameras can of course be used to keep intruders out but also monitor those within, within reason, to help ensure you know they are safe at home. The latest security technology features functions such as live viewing, which may be a consideration if you need to regularly check in on an elderly relative or a disabled relative who may need your support. You can also get security camera systems that incorporate mobile alerts. They will let you know if someone opens a door and enters the home, both when expected and not. This can be useful if you’re worried about vulnerable relatives at risk of doorstep fraud and crime.
Medical Alert Systems
Medical alerts can be the most valuable devices a person owns if they might need help due to their age or disability. They allow some independence but no loss of safety due to medical concerns or issues. Medical alert systems are usually in pendant or bracelet form, and they feature a button to call for assistance. Most medical alert systems also feature automatic fall detection, ensuring either a relative or someone at a monitoring center is contacted and help arrives very quickly.
Smart locks allow doors to be controlled remotely, ensuring no one feels locked in or is able to easily get out and be in danger. Remotely controlling the locks in your own home is great if you live with an older or disabled relative who you can support throughout the day but who may need the doors locked overnight to avoid any risk of wandering into the street or falling down the stairs.
External cameras and video doorbells combined can safely monitor the doorstep and front yard area of any home. They can monitor the property for movement and the latest models include 2-way communication, so it is possible to speak to someone on the doorstep before letting them in. Recordings are also possible, so if a vulnerable person experiences nuisance calls, they can be logged with the police with relevant evidence to back up any concerns. Some video doorbell and camera systems also feature motion sensors so you receive an alert if a vulnerable relative unexpectedly leaves the property.
Smart sensors can be really helpful for keeping the home safe and also for convenience and independence. Motion sensors can be easily connected to devices such as smart lights, which switch on immediately if they sense movement. Motion sensors can also be set up to detect absence of movement, which may be useful if you want to check in on the welfare of vulnerable relatives without seeming overbearing.
Smart lights can also be voice-controlled, as can other features in the home. They can be set up to only come on in between sunrise and sunset. Voice assistants can be triggered by voice command or can be pre-set in advance.
Voice Assistant Technologies
Voice assistants are commonplace in many homes, but they are a great addition in homes where moving around may not be easy. Being able to use voice commands such as “call Mom” can be great for people who may struggle to get out of bed sometimes or live with pain that can make moving difficult. Voice assistants can also be programmed to help people remember important daily activities such as taking medication or mealtimes if this has become a problem or requires an additional prompt.
Sometimes known as intelligent personal assistants, voice assisted devices can become the center of a secure home. Research has shown these devices offer the potential to improve and enhance daily life for people with a range of disabilities. Many of these devices can be programmed to “learn” skills over time and with the right support, they can be set up to provide invaluable help for disabled people living alone or spending considerable time alone independently in the family home. These devices can be used to control other home devices and the internet of things, too.
Day-to-Day Smart Safety
While home security concerns revolve around intruders, it is worth remembering there are potential hazards within the home that could cause damage to both property and people. Further smart devices to consider include:
Leak sensors: home automation and monitoring can be fitted to devices around the home, even taps. Sensors can send a warning if a tap is left on or it can even automatically shut off the tap itself, depending on the system. Overflowing sinks and baths can cause significant damage, as well as distress, so an additional reminder is always welcome.
Smart thermostats: the smart thermostat was one of the earliest smart technologies installed in modern homes. If you’re worried about the temperature being too cold or too warm in a relative’s home, you can check in remotely and ensure they’re not putting themselves at any risk.
Predictive Health Monitoring
Utilizing the latest artificial intelligence and smart technology, many companies are developing predictive health monitoring. Useful for reducing issues such as bed falls and pressure injuries, AI can be used to monitor people whilst in bed and provide advance alerts of any unexpected movements or when repositioning is needed. While many of these technologies are designed for hospital or care facility use at present, there is no reason they cannot move into people’s own homes and provide an additional layer of support for disabled people as well as their caregivers.
No technology or device is a replacement for ensuring safety and security measures are discussed openly and transparently where possible. People with intellectual disabilities may need regular chats about not opening the door to strangers or sharing their personal information and others who live with memory problems may need regular reminders about the importance of the smart locks and security measures within the home. No one wants their home to feel like a care facility, so the use of technology has to be balanced with understanding and, of course, safety.
People with degenerative disabilities or diseases may need additional mental health support to handle the changes in their lives. A lot of the newer technologies seem like a great and liberating development to non-disabled people, but they may still feel invasive and difficult to accept for someone who is experiencing significant changes in their body as well as their life.
The speed at which technology develops ensures there are plenty of options and connectible devices to improve both the security and accessibility of the average home. What’s more, many smart devices provide entertainment and social benefits as well as their role in improved security in the home. The personalized nature of smart home systems ensures it can be set to meet the needs of any individual, with no need to accept a one-size-fits-all approach.