The promise of voice technology is that it will make our lives simpler. Think about it, voice recognition does away with all needless UI and leaves just the user’s intent. We get back to being in control of the way technology interacts with us, instead of technology controlling how we interact with it. For many of us, this is a welcomed improvement, yet there are segments of the population that don’t know if they’re going to get the same benefits of voice technology, such as Amazon Alexa, like the rest of us.
In this 4-part weekly series of articles, we discuss how and why Alexa is good for four different segments of people: seniors/the elderly, kids/babies, the blind/visually impaired, and the deaf. For each group, we will discuss exactly why and how Alexa is good for them, as well as which Alexa-enabled device is best for them, and, as an added bonus, we’ll share some of the best skills catered to them.
Why is Alexa good for seniors/the elderly?
The benefits of Amazon Alexa for seniors/the elderly are something of great interest to many families. We worry constantly about the mood, health, and safety of our aging parents and senior family members. Can Alexa help ease our minds of these concerns?
The simple answer is an emphatic yes! Alexa is a great tool for many senior citizens, and we’ll explain why.
To begin, installing Alexa is very simple. With its directed installation setup, most seniors can configure Alexa at home for themselves. All they need is an Amazon Echo-enabled device, a power outlet, and a Wi-Fi network.
Alexa is a great personal assistant and companion for seniors. In addition to helping them maintain their independence, Alexa helps seniors stay healthy, active, and engaged every day. With few buttons and a minimal interaction interface, Alexa is one of the most intuitive technologies to have surfaced for seniors in a very long time.
Alexa feels much more like interacting with a friend than interacting with a device. The great benefit of voice recognition technology is that it just feels natural. Even the command structure is just like asking your friend, “Alexa”, for help.
Contrary to what SNL might joke about, actual use-cases have shown that seniors are quick to pick up Alexa’s command structure, and can command Alexa with ease once they switch into this mindset of asking a friend for help.
Alexa is good for accessibility. With numerous home automation features, Alexa also simplifies many tasks around the house such as turning off the lights, checking the stove, etc. For seniors, many of whom find getting around the house difficult or unsafe, these are life-saving functionalities. Alexa simplifies many inconvenient tasks for seniors, saving them time and energy.
Finally, Alexa enables seniors to seamlessly stay in touch with caretakers, friends, and family members. Handy built-in functionality such as the ability to “drop-in” on other Amazon Echo devices allow seniors to get in contact with loved ones much more easily.
In addition, there are third-party skills that enable seniors to reach out to emergency contacts & services in case they’re in need of help using just their voice; no need to push any buttons.
How is Alexa good for seniors (What they can do with it)?
Contacting friends and loved ones
With Alexa, getting in contact with friends, caregivers, and loved ones has never been easier. From first-party functionality to third-party skills, there are a number of ways seniors can leverage Alexa to reach out to those around them.
With just their voices seniors can call any contact in an instant: “Alexa call Jane” or (a little more challenging) “Alexa dial 555-555-5555”. This puts loved ones just an utterance away, in contrast to having to pull out the mobile phone and fumble through numerous keys to accomplish the same task.
Going one step further are skills like Ask My Buddy, where seniors can reach out to caregivers in case of emergency: “Alexa, Ask My Buddy to alert everyone”.
Listening to favorite music, audiobooks, and podcasts
While seniors enjoy listening to the radio and reliving the popular music of their time, it can be hard for them to get up to change stations or put on something new. With Alexa that is no longer a problem.
From the comfort of wherever they are, around the house (within earshot of a device), they can simply say, “Alexa play some music” to get started. To be even more direct they can try something like, “Alexa play some Frank Sinatra” or “Alexa, play NPR”. And of course, “Alexa, turn the volume up” or down, lets seniors effortlessly control how quiet or how loud the music is.
Naturally, since Amazon also owns the world’s largest collection of audiobooks, Audible.com, Alexa can let seniors tap into millions of audiobooks at their beck and call. Simply purchase a book on Audible and ask Alexa to start reading it or pick up where you left off: “Alexa, continue my audiobook”.
As an aside, although Amazon Echo/Alexa doesn’t require a monthly subscription, features like Amazon Prime Music and Spotify Premium can require a subscription fee for full access. But there are other free, though ad-supported, music options such as Pandora on Alexa.
Daily day, weather and news updates
Another simple feature that’s perfect for seniors is the ability to quickly and easily get day/date reminders, weather, and news updates from Alexa. Just ask her things like, “Alexa, what day is it?”, “Alexa what’s the weather today?”, “Alexa, what’s the news?”, or “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?” These simple, yet useful, features allow seniors to keep informed and on top of their daily activities.
Medication reminders & alarms
A useful, less-obvious, functionality for Alexa’s handy reminders is as a medication reminder system for seniors. Seniors can simply ask Alexa to remind them to take their medication after a certain amount of time has passed. For example, “Alexa, remind me to take my meds in 10 minutes” or “Alexa, remind me to take my meds after 10 minutes”. Seniors are less likely to forget to take important medication when Alexa’s there to kindly remind them, just in time. Additionally, they can use third-party skills such as Text Reminders 1 or Call Reminders 1 to send text or phone call alerts to their mobile phones reminding them to take their medication (family members can also use these skills to set up reminders for the senior in their life): “Alexa, ask Call Reminders to remind me to take my meds in 10 minutes”. This is particularly useful if seniors are going to be out of the house when they need a reminder. It’s been shown that these reminder features can improve the lives of seniors living with dementia or alzheimers.
Controlling lights, heat, and other smart devices
When it comes to mobility in and around the home, Alexa’s home automation features enable seniors to have hands-free convenience. By installing smart bulbs, smart thermostats, smart doorbells, like the Ring doorbell, and other smart devices, seniors are able to take advantage of Alexa even more. She can then save them from having to strain to do things like check who’s at the front door, turn off all the lights, or check the stove. Listen to one senior’s account of how Alexa saves her and her husband from having to get out from bed just to turn off the lights when one of them invariably forgets to turn them off before bed. Granted, installation of these smart devices might need to be done by a relative or technician but they can quite simple to set up (as with this 4-minute setup of connecting Alexa to a Ring Doorbell) and really add to the usability of Alexa around the house, for seniors.
With third-party skill integrations for Uber and Lyft, seniors can easily request rides from their home, or default origin, to any destination. For seniors, this can be much simpler than having to pull out the phone, entering the origin and destination addresses, selecting a ride type, and fumbling through Uber’s UI, just to get going. While it may seem like a small benefit, the power of voice really simplifies the user interactions with technology, for seniors. This is one example where that really shines true.
Shopping online and ordering food
Another case of when voice technology really shines is in shopping online or ordering food. From the comfort of their couches, seniors can easily order food from many restaurants by using the restaurant’s skill. For example, “Alexa, tell Dominos to order a large supreme pizza”. Alexa will then, going forward, remember their defaults/favorites, so they generally will never have to ask twice.
Additionally, shopping on Amazon.com has never been easier. Similar to ordering food, Alexa will remember senior’s past purchases so that they can reorder them with ease. For added convenience, their pizza and Amazon orders will get delivered straight to the door.
Alexa will display a blinking yellow light when these orders have arrived. Learn more about what it means when Alexa is flashing yellow and other colors here.
Doing light exercise
Finally, with Alexa around seniors can engage in some light exercise to keep them active and healthy. Using third-party skills, seniors can engage in exercises such as yoga, stretching, and pilates that greatly help with their mobility and health. It is still advisable that all seniors consult a physician before embarking on any exercise routine.
There are many more features of Amazon Alexa that are good for seniors that we haven’t even touched on! For example, Alexa’s ability to tell jokes using native functionality and third-party skills, play soothing sounds 1 to help with relaxation & sleep, and her ability to train and enhance senior’s memories by playing brain games and riddles 1. Just like the Apple App Store, the Alexa Skill Marketplace allows for developers to add many more useful features to Alexa and some of these are specifically created with seniors in mind. In a minute, we’ll showcase some of the best third-party skills for seniors. But right now we want to discuss exactly which Alexa device is best for seniors.
Which Alexa is good for seniors/the elderly and why?
Our #1 Rated
4.5 out of 5
- Small & compact (hockey puck) size
- Great sound quality for its size
- Premium fabric rim – soft to the touch
- Minimal interface
- Can place in multiple rooms to have Alexa always there to help you
- Can pair multiple Echo Dots for stereo sound
- Lowest costing device
Our #2 Rated
4 out of 5
- Small and compact size
- Minimal visual user interface
- Attractive design with bright Easy-to-Read screen
- Ability to make and receive video calls
- Celebrity voices wake up call
- Perfect for the bedside table
- Great alarm clock replacement
- Medium cost device
What are the best skills for seniors/the elderly?
Ask My buddy – Message family/caregiver, if in trouble.
Ask My Buddy helps you ask for assistance using only your voice – and – makes it easy to let your contacts know you are doing ok.
You can’t predict when you’ll need help, Ask My Buddy lets you immediately alert someone in your Personal Alert Network that you need them to check on you. You may alert just 1 contact or all of your friends or family with just one command. Simply say, ‘Alexa, Ask My Buddy to alert Your Contact’ or ‘Alexa, Ask My Buddy to alert everyone’, and Ask My Buddy will immediately send an alert, notifying them to check on you right away. Alerts will be sent by text message / SMS, an email, and even a voice telephone call.
Text Reminders / Call Reminders
1 Set it and forget it Text or Call Reminders from Alexa that get delivered on time, every time!
Get scheduled (or delayed/timed) Text or Call Reminders from Alexa (+1-206-316-8452). You’ll always be reminded on-time & never miss a reminder again, especially when you’re away from her!
In skill you can:
* Set reminders to triggered at a specific time & date, or duration.
* Add multiple phone numbers to your contacts and send them reminders too.
* Cancel the last reminder you set.
Senior Life Flash Briefing
WHAT IT DOES:
Begin every morning with practical advice on how to live a better senior life. Being older means being wiser, as you feel great, save money, and have fun. It’s never too early to hear how to use your time and money better, slow down aging, take care of your health, and be involved with your family and community. You will never wake up on the wrong side of the bed with Senior Life. You will close the gap between where you are today and where you want to be.
HOW TO USE THIS:
After you enable this Alexa skill, just say “Alexa, play my flash briefing” to start listing. This flash briefing is updated every day and will work on all Alexa Echo devices, Alexa-enabled Kindle Fires and even on the go if you download the Alexa app on your mobile phone or tablet.
Jeopardy – Play Jeopardy with new challenges. Helps to keep senior’s minds active and engaged.
Did you know that every Jeopardy category has an “extra” 6th clue? Now you can play those clues on Alexa! With a single voice command, test your knowledge with new clues every weekday. Step up to the podium and play the same categories you saw on the latest episode! Play a wide range of categories including sports, pop culture, travel, world history, and much more! Get the true Jeopardy! experience now as you respond, just like contestants on the show!
Prime Members get a free subscription to Double Jeopardy! with 6 extra clues every weekday. Just say “Alexa, open Jeopardy” and play to get started.
Celebrate over 30 seasons of America’s Favorite Quiz Show®—enable the skill and play today!
Price It Right – Just like the TV game show but instead, you guess the prices of Amazon items competing against other players
Challenge your friends and family to see who can more accurately guess the price of Amazon items! You can play at home or with people from around the world.
My Day promotes healthy, independent aging by linking seniors with their families and caregivers in a simple, daily, question-and-answer format. Keep your loved ones up to date on your status, collaborate on calendars and reminders, and access tools such as exercise plans and memory exercises. With My Day, Alexa will make sure you’re always in touch for security and peace of mind.
Sleep and Relaxation Sounds
Sleep Sounds lets you play ambient sounds to help you sleep peacefully or block out unwanted noise at work or home. With over 125 high quality sounds to choose from, you’ll be able to sleep better, stay focused, study without interruption, relax quickly, meditate more effectively, and get your baby to go to sleep faster!
1 Alexa will give you a series of things to do each morning to help you win the day, be more positive, and lead a more happy, healthy and successful life.
A personalized voice assistant designed to help seniors stay happier, healthier, and connected to the people and resources they care about.
A fun voice assistant that allows seniors to send and receive voice messages to and from contacts, monitors their emotional and physical health, stores reminders, suggests personalized activities and events and provides assistance with basic needs and questions.
An easy-to-use voice assistant designed to help aging adults enjoy independent living.
A voice-activated digital companion designed to help seniors stay in contact, in good health, and independent.
Get a reliable ride in minutes with the Uber skill. Simply say “Alexa ask Uber for a ride” and an UberX will be there in minutes. If you would like a different car type, you can say things like “Alexa, ask Uber to order an Uber Black.” From low-cost to premium, every ride option feels like an upgrade to the everyday.
You can also change your default pickup location, ask for a ride status, or cancel your ride. Switch between your Amazon Household profiles to request a ride from different Uber accounts.
Senior Moments is a skill offering a mix of senior humor, wisecracks, and chuckles. We believe it’s important to laugh out loud every day. Also to laugh at ourselves. (even if it’s before someone else does!). No offense is ever intended. Just have a chuckle listening to random facts, snaps, and wisecracks about getting older. Just say “Alexa, open Senior Moments” and hear a short, random snippet of senior humor.
The Brain Workout Skill has been designed to help you increase your concentration and memory with a voice first experience.
The skill consists of two series of 3 questions each. The first series is made of simple mental calculation exercises to boost your concentration. In the second one, you will have to memorize 7 cards which Alexa will speak out loud before answering questions such as their order or the number of cards of a given color for example. You will, of course, have the possibility to ask Alexa to repeat the series of card. The goal of the exercise is to improve your short-term memory.
Big Sky: Better Weather for Amazon Alexa
Big Sky uses the Dark Sky API, to give hyper-local for hour-by hour forecasts tied to your actual street address, and locations around the world.
6-Minute Full Body Stretch
Try this six-minute stretching routine today to prepare you for the busy day ahead, or to get so much needed relaxation after work.
By incorporating this stretching program into your daily routine, you can increase your flexibility and range of motion. You can also improve performance in sports and daily tasks. Stretching can help prevent injury and decrease pain associated with muscle tightness.
This skill plays an audio track to help you practice yoga nidra (“yogic sleep”), a refreshing form of relaxation and an alternative to the 20-minute power nap. You can control this skill with the usual voice commands like “pause”, “resume”, and “start over”.
As demonstrated, we strongly believe that seniors can greatly benefit from having Alexa around the house since there are numerous benefits that come with her. But what about the downsides? From our research of seniors and their interactions with Alexa, there were two main problems identified by seniors. Number one involved privacy concerns regarding the “always on” microphone and number two concerned paying for premium music subscriptions in order to listen to some of their favorite albums and artists.
These are not unheard of concerns as they’ve been expressed before by a majority of even the most tech-savvy Alexa users. And just like those tech-savvy users, seniors understand that this is amongst the growing trend of consumers trading data and privacy for the convenience that technology brings to their lives (e.g using Google & Facebook). Thus most are willing to overlook the “always-on” microphone in return for the convenient services and assistance Alexa provides.
1. Skills developed by a partner company of LoveMyAlexa.
CyberAndiFebruary 19, 2019
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