Video surveillance systems are quickly becoming an affordable and efficient way to ensure vulnerable seniors stay safe when in the care of others, whether it is an in-home caretaker, nursing home, hospital or other type of managed care facility. A granny cam can also provide a clear picture of how an elderly person is getting along on their own, or it can capture mistreatment.
Most experts estimate between 1 million and 2 million elderly Americans have experienced abuse or neglect. However, the Senate Special Committee on Aging believes the number of victims may actually be closer to 5 million, which means five additional cases may exist for every one reported. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse [http://www.ncea.aoa.gov], physicians and other healthcare professionals are involved in 21.6 percent of reported cases, while family members are the perpetrators nearly 15 percent of the time and service providers are involved 9.4 percent of the time.
People suffering from dementia, as well as women and those with physical disabilities, are the most likely victims of caregiver abuse and neglect. Depression, lack of a social support system, verbal or physical aggression, substance abuse as well as fear of institutionalization and loss of independence are just a few of the numerous barriers that prevent the reporting of elder abuse.
As technology improves, many families are turning to granny cams as a way to prove their suspicions. According to a report on the WBAL evening news [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YEuivTYI64&feature=player_embedded] in Baltimore, Jaki Taylor used a granny cam to capture images of an in-home caregiver repeatedly abusing her father, a stroke victim. In New York, 22 nursing home healthcare workers were arrested after authorities used hidden cameras to prove mistreatment was taking place.
Since only Maryland, Texas and New Mexico have enacted laws that allow nursing home residents to have video surveillance equipment in their private rooms, the use of granny cams to prove suspected abuse of a vulnerable adults is largely a moral issue. The largest criticism concerns privacy, both for the caregivers as well as for the elderly residents. Opponents also claim insurance costs will rise, and hiring qualified caregivers, who are already in short supply, will become even more difficult. The long-term care industry has spent considerable effort and funding to fight legislative measures to legalize surveillance cameras.
Granny cams can also enable elderly relatives to continue living independently in their own homes. The latest technological innovations affordably transform any house into a smart home that actively or passively monitors the occupant’s activities. However, some of the most sensitive rooms, such as the bathroom and bedroom, are among the most likely places for an accident to occur. This may present some unique ethical problems that can be solved by pointing a camera at the floor or providing...