The rest of the oft-quoted phrase is a pejorative about how “Nobody’s Home.” And we know it’s supposed to connote low wattage of an intellectual sort. Well, burglars who may be watching for when your mom and dad go on the vacations with which retired folks are supposed to be frequently indulging themselves are also watching to see if the lights are on. According to law enforcement they take the lights on as a sign that, in fact, nobody’s home.
So what can one do to safeguard home? Well, the same bad guys also look to see if the lights go on at the same time a couple nights in a row, so timers are about as effective as letting the house stand all lit up all the time. Technology has a better answer…actually a couple of them that involve “smart lighting” that can be a safeguard both indoors and outside.
Smart lighting outside can use motion detectors that sense anyone approaching the house and flood them in conspicuous lighting that burglars like to avoid. And these particular smart lights can be “trained” to respond to only larger disturbances, so that pesky moths do not have your porch flashing all night like a pinball machine. The sensor outside could also be set up to turn on a light or two inside the house to make it appear as if someone inside is alert to anyone approaching the house. You will want a sensor that also is “outdoor rated” to be sealed against moisture.
Smart lighting inside can be a real safeguard against night time falls for an older loved one who may make the middle of the night run to the powder room. A small light can be a big assist for someone just starting to awaken, but already in motion down the hall. And both indoor and outdoor sensors can be set to turn themselves off after a desired lapse of time, again looking more real life.
And there is a whole line of smart devices that connect home indoor and outdoor lighting to an app on a smart phone. And you don’t have to ask Siri to attend to the lighting for you. It is all literally in your hands. Of course, if you’re trying to be helpful to an older loved one you will want to confirm specifically when they are and are not home so that you don’t unsettle them with an unannounced light show.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.