Most marketing for Amazon’s voice-activated in-home assistant, Alexa, puts 20 to 30-somethings in the forefront of their ads, but older adults might have even more to gain by adopting this increasingly popular technology.
Here are five ways seniors can leverage the power of Alexa to change their daily routines.
Household and Medication Reminders
As a senior’s medical needs change, staying on top of a prescription medication schedule can be a difficult adjustment, especially when there are multiple medications and doses that must be taken throughout the day.
By simply saying “Alexa, remind me to take (medication name and amount) every day at (designated dose times),” staying on top
of a medication schedule becomes that much easier, especially when used in conjunction with the assistance of pre-poured medication and pill organizers.
In addition to taking medication, recurring household errands become easier to track with Alexa, be it watering plants, remembering when garbage must be taken out and when to pay utility bills.
Alert Others When in Need
We all need a little help at times, and when a senior finds themselves in a difficult, but not life-threatening situation, the Ask My Buddy Alexa “skill” can be a powerful tool.
Once enabled, the senior enters the phone number of a trusted neighbor or nearby family member and, in the event of a small emergency, can say “Alexa, call my buddy” in order to send a call to the designated recipient – no need to fumble for a misplaced or unreachable phone.
Make Late-Night Walks Safer
Many preventable falls begin as a late-night trip to the bathroom, often because lamps and light switches are not within easy reach.
Rather than leaving lights on throughout their home, seniors can install Amazon Echo-compatible lightbulbs in fixtures along their route to the restroom. Once installed, the lights are activated by simply saying “Alexa, turn on the lights.”
Order Home Essentials
Rather than travelling to a brick-and-mortar store, seniors with limited mobility can order household essentials like toilet paper,
pet food and more through Alexa if they have an Amazon Prime membership.
In addition to simplifying errands, Alexa users are also given special discounts on a rotating list of everyday household items.
Alexa’s calendar feature is a great way to stay on top of special events like medical appointments and family visits.
To set a calendar event, say “Alexa, add an event to my calendar,” and when prompted, name the event, date and time the event will occur.
If you need to reschedule or delete an event, simply say “Alexa, move my doctor’s appointment from 2 pm on Thursday to 4 pm on Friday,” or “Alexa, remove my doctor’s appointment at 2pm on Thursday from my calendar.”
If the thought of an automated in-house assistant intrigues you, this article barely scratches the surface of the countless ways seniors have used Alexa to stay entertained, complete tasks and organize their days.
I get where Alex is coming from, but let’s step back and think about the factors at play:
1 – Alex runs a Life Alert-style company – of course he doesn’t want people to rely on off-the-shelf technology to provide a similar service for free
2 – The blog clearly states “non-life threatening situation.” The feature is not meant as a replacement for these kinds of systems.
3 – Liz Hamburg from Candoo (and myself, frankly) would argue that Alex’s list of hurdles infantilizes seniors – he’s using the “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” argument when he says an 80 year old can’t figure out how to use a voice-activated system. Most seniors we serve already have cable, the Internet and router are provided in the modern cable box.
If Alex wants us to plug his service, or if he wants to provide us with either A) a blog article explaining why his life alert system is still relevant in the age of Alexa, or B) an interview with me speaking to the same topic, I would be happy to give him a platform to discuss.
In short, I agree that Alexa isn’t a replacement for his service. I also do not wish to muddle the article we wrote by throwing in a conflicting opinion with no context.
Of course, not every challenge can be overcome with clever apps. If you or a loved one need a helping hand around the home, now is the time to call SelectCare Home Care Services, where our team of home health care experts have helped seniors for more than 30 years.