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The Best Ways To Use Alexa For The Elderly & Seniors

Having a Voice Assistant may seem like something only the younger generations use on their day to day activities, but that’s no longer the case! With accessibility being a prime focus for most Smart Home devices, you’ll find that there’s no need to call 911 directly should there be an emergency and you can’t reach the phone.

The Alexa Assistant built into many devices like the Amazon Echo is a fantastic tool for the elderly and makes living alone whilst ageing the easiest it’s ever been!

In this post, I’m going to cover the benefits of Alexa for Seniors and what you can do to make their life easier through the use of their phones or voice commands. Whether it’s sending messages, asking family members for assistance or ordering food.

Why Amazon Alexa?

As of writing this, the Amazon Echo line is the best device for accessibility on a budget and has the widest array of skills and applications. The Amazon Echo device is a completely hands-free, voice-activated assistant that can control your home and other devices in your life.

This means elderly individuals can change what they’re watching, turn off lights, order food and even request assistance without leaving the comfort of their own home or room. Alexa itself can be controlled directly from the Echo devices or other Smart Devices like a cell phone or tablet, meaning there are always additional options to assist seniors.

Additionally, the Echo Dot is an extremely affordable option for any senior member who is on a budget, with them costing around $40 and often cheaper during Prime Day or Black Friday & Cyber Monday. You may find that the better option is the Echo Show which features a large touch screen display so you can easily see what is currently happening.

If you’re looking to go all out with a Smart Home built around caring for seniors, Alexa is built into a range of products like the August Wi-Fi smart locks for safety along with the Ring Front Door Camera and EcoBee Thermostats.

What are the benefits of Alexa for Senors?

The Best Ways To Use Alexa For The Elderly & Seniors

The list of things Alexa can do to help the older generations seems endless, there’s so much option for accessibility with your Alexa device from creating to-do lists, scheduling events, providing entertainment, ordering food and even assistance with transportation.

We highly recommend getting Amazon Prime if you’re using this to help with your day to day activities as this allows you to make the most of Amazon Pantry which is a service for getting groceries delivered to your front door. This does come at an expense as it’s not as cheap as going to the supermarket but if the person in question has difficulties with mobility it can be great to create a shopping list with your voice and have everything straight to your door.

If you’re looking to stay connected with the world, Alexa offers you varying entertainment and news clips via Alexa Skills and by default. These are called “News Flash” briefings which can be modified to control what you’re told. In most cases, it can tell you Global news, local weather changes and local news. This can be set up by following these steps:

  1. Open the Alexa App on your Smart Device (Smart Phone or Tablet)
  2. Open More and then Settings
  3. Select Flash Briefing
  4. Toggle on and off which news you want to hear

If you’re not into the news, don’t worry! You can also ask Alexa to play your local radio stations or read books to you if you have an audible subscription.

In short, Smart Homes are fantastic for senior members of our communities but having Alexa specifically is not only the best option out there but also an affordable way to help around the house.

How Seniors can use Alexa

Alexa is a great tool for young and old alike, however, Smart Home functionality is still early days and you’ll find with plenty of users it will get better over time.

If you’re a Caregiver you can set up Alexa to assist you alongside your patients, for example, Care Hub allows you to connect your Alexa device with a patient to get notifications should you need them.

With 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s & Dementia, it has become increasingly useful to have Alexa around. You can use a Calendar, To-Do Lists, and reminders to help not only CareGivers but the patient at hand who may need assistance remembering what to do.

Alexa Care Hub Feature

Alexa Care Giving

If you have an Alexa device already, you’ll be happy to know there’s a free feature called “Care Hub“, which is a tool for both caregivers and care receivers. This feature allows you to connect multiple Alexa devices for ease of communication and control, the ability to contact an emergency contact (A specific contact you set up), and even check if certain activity on a device to see if a care receiver is currently active.

Setting up Care Hub is extremely easy, you will require permission to connect both Alexa accounts as you will be in some respect intruding on the care receiver’s privacy. But you can control what information is shared, meaning you can choose what not to accept.

To clarify further on this, as a caregiver you will only be able to see someone is doing a task, not exactly what they’re doing. This works as a snapshot of the activity feed which can be accessed at any point.

Care Hub has a fantastic feature that works like My SOS Family, where you can assign loved ones or caregivers as your primary emergency contact if you need assistance. Simply ask “Alexa, call for help” or use the Alexa App on your Smart Device which will allow the recipient to Drop In and get in contact.

Make Video Calls or Phone Calls

The Best Ways To Use Alexa For The Elderly & Seniors

If you’re able to afford the additional cost of an Echo Show device, you can stay in contact via video or phone calls with friends, family, and your caregivers. You can dial phone numbers directly or connect your Smart Phone contacts to ask Alexa to call them directly.

For example, “Alexa, Call {Contact Name}”, or “Alexa, Video Call {Contact Name}” which can be incredibly useful if you require some assistance.

Playing Music / Audible

Alexa is a great entertainment system, if you have Spotify, Amazon Music, or another service you can listen to playlists and specific artists directly through your Alexa device. The newer Echo devices have fantastic speakers for their price ranges which work well for both music and audiobooks.

Alexa integrates fantastically with Audible if you have a subscription for this, which helps not only with reading audiobooks but also the complete Audible Sleep Collection which assists with sleeping via soothing sounds and meditation.

If you don’t want to purchase the Audible subscription, you can ask “Alexa, What’s free from audible” which will allow you to pick from their large range of options. This changes fairly regularly, and there’s usually more than enough to pick from.

Grocery shopping

Hand reaching peppers, using Alexa Pantry

Alexa assists directly with boring tasks like shopping in a multitude of ways. The most obvious one is that you can add things you need to buy to a virtual list by saying”Alexa, Add {Item} to my list“.

Alternatively, you can use your Amazon Alexa to order takeaway directly to your door. Whilst this isn’t completely cost-efficient, it does allow you to set up orders you like and ask Alexa to order directly to your door via these Alexa Skills.

Change your thermostat

This only works if you have a compatible smart home thermostat like the Google Nest, Honeywell or Ecobee. This lets you modify the temperature of your home via your Smart Phone or Alexa voice command directly.

Most Smart Thermostats actually learn what you want and what it can do to automate this, making winters not only cheaper but also more comfortable for the elderly.

In the UK, the Winter Mortality rate from 2019 to 2020 was around 28,300 which is 19.6% higher than its prior year and with electricity bills going higher it’s expected most elderly users won’t be able to afford to heat.

With the use of a Smart Thermostat, you can warm your home prior to peak time turn off your heating automatically to save money.

Check the weather

If you do want to plan ahead for a walk around the area to get those legs moving, Alexa can plug directly into a weather API to check the local area. Simply ask “Alexa, what is the weather like in {Your location}”.

This broadcast can also go further in-depth as you can ask Alexa for specific information such as humidity, pollen count, chance of rain and wind speeds.

Setting timers

One of the more commonly used features we’ve seen is the use of timers which helps seniors avoid forgetting that they’ve left their cooking on or if they have to do specific exercises etc.

Honestly, a timer is a great tool to have for your day to day regardless of age. We highly recommend it for any user.

Simply ask “Alexa, Set time for {X} {Seconds, Minutes, Hours}”

Medication reminders

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to forget to have your medication without a little nudge. Alexa can be used to set up regular reminders for your medication intake along with calling your doctor directly via the Echo/Show device you’re using.

According to uptodate, 87% of adults aged between 62 and 85 take at least 1 prescription a day, and 38% take more than five. With this high quantity of medication users at a senior age, it makes sense to incorporate Alexa into the mix.

You can also set up medication reminders, which only work if you live in the USA and use Giant Eagle Pharmacy, this skill connects directly to your Alexa account and will then review your account with that service and provide you information of your current prescriptions and the ability to set up reminders for those prescriptions.

Set up Routines

Routines are a specific set of tasks or jobs that your Alexa device can do once triggered. For example, you can set it up so that every morning Alexa will wake you up with an alarm, which also then turns on your Smart Coffee Kettle and opens your blinds.

If you’re a carer, you can align this with reminders you have set up so that Alexa starts the day by telling the care receiver what their reminders are.

This can be customized to however you need and some options do require additional Smart Devices. But for those who struggle with movement and day-to-day tasks, it can be incredibly useful.

Security

The Best Ways To Use Alexa For The Elderly & Seniors

Unfortunately in the US, around 75% of homeowners don’t have security and over 1.7 million burglaries occur every year. Unfortunately, 424,886 of these incidents happened during the day.

With Alexa, you can automatically lock your doors and control your Smart Cameras directly from your Phone and voice assistant.

Conclusion

We’ve seen a lot of different technologies that can help seniors stay connected with their families and friends, but now there is one more option.

Alexa for the elderly has been created to give those without an internet connection or smartphone access to ask questions about recipes, weather updates, and even connect them with family members via Alexa’s Video Calls. The app also provides daily reminders so you never forget your medications again!

Got any other great ideas? Let us know @Smarthomebit on Twitter!