If you have been worried about a senior in your life living all alone without a caretaker, then here comes your guardian angel: Alexa. This versatile digital assistant device can answer questions and perform all sorts of tasks as per your command.
Not even a human being is as submissive as this device, because it will never get tired of answering your questions and responding to your commands.
Is Alexa good for senior citizens? Alexa is ideal for elderly people or senior citizens keeping in mind its ability to answer all sorts of questions and perform a myriad of tasks commanded which enables people of all ages to a more convenient and accessible life. It is also good those elderly people who struggle with memory, the ability to read (due to weakening vision), mobility, and memorization.
We would like to note that this article does not assume that just because someone is of a certain age they distinctly face certain issues.
Rather, this article is written under the assumption that there are a variety of similar issues that many persons of older age face in which Alexa can assist. Thus, we have compiled many pros and cons to using the Alexa for people who may face issues that are common among those with advanced age.
Why Alexa is Good for Senior Citizens (Pros)
1. Keep Track of the Date
As people age, eyesight can be one of the common abilities to diminish. Additionally, it is common for memory to lapse. Further, it is common that once a person retires and has fewer daily responsibilities, he or she may have a more difficult time keeping track of the calendar.
With the help of Alexa, much can be made easier. Rather than scanning one’s calendar and playing a guessing game, one could simply start by saying, “Alexa…” and then ask whatever question such as, “Alexa, what time is it?” or “Alexa, what is today’s date.”
2. Update Your Calendar
Due to daily responsibilities and memory issues associated with age, people of older age may face more difficulty than most in keeping track of all their plans. Your Alexa will help to provide management for your calendar. With the Alexa, you can add plans to your calendar, cancel an event, reschedule an event and even invite someone to an event.
Consider these examples:
- “Alexa, please add an event to my calendar.” Simply give the name of the event, its date, and time.
- “Alexa, delete my friend’s visit from my calendar,” to cancel your friend’s visit.
- “Alexa, move my grandchildren coming over from Tuesday to Friday,” to reschedule an event.
Consequently, you can use an Echo to hear your upcoming schedules or show your schedule, whichever you prefer. Provide a command like this to accomplish what you are looking for:
- “Alexa, what is on my calendar?” to know the coming schedules.
- “Alexa, please show me my calendar,” to see the schedule.
3. Track Current Reports
You can track and receive current reports in anything using Alexa/Echo; examples of these reports could include those on traffic, sports, news, stock, weather, among others.
You can get the latest news any time you want with Alexa. Just by asking, “Alexa, what is the news?” you will have the latest news without having to sift through numerous channels of online information.
Further, you can log into your Amazon Alexa Account and customize your news source and create your flash briefing. This is particularly helpful to people who may have gained a preference for particular news stations over the years.
Any time you want to know about the weather, you can simply command Alexa to let you know. This will be very convenient for the seniors as they will not have to wait for the weather channel to broadcast or check the weather online. You can know the current and future weather in very simple ways.
- For current weather, simply ask, “Alexa, what is the weather?”
- Fur future weather data, simply ask, “Alexa, what is the forecast for tomorrow?”
You can even request specific information from Alexa such as knowing whether it will rain on a particular date, the current humidity, UV index at a particular time, among others. This will be possible if you enable the big sky skill in your Alexa account.
4. Easily Access Entertainment Sources
Alexa can be particularly helpful in maintaining easy access to entertainment services. Rather than having to sort through a smart home device, you can simply request that Alexa do this for you. Sometimes, it is more difficult for people who are new to certain technologies to figure out how to make it work.
By using Alexa paired with your smart entertainment devices (TV, Kindle, Echo, etc.), you have easier, quicker, and more convenient access to entertainment sources of your choice.
As many people age, they are faced with solitary living for the first time in years. Staying entertained is important for both the quality of life and maintaining mental stimulation. Some forms of entertainment might include music, games, audio books, or storytelling.
Ensure you have an Amazon Music Unlimited Subscription and from it (with the command to Alexa) you can play any music you want. You can ask Alexa to play a specific artist or genre. For instance, “Alexa, Play Rock and Roll.”
Listen to Audiobooks
Having a subscription to Audible is an easy avenue for Alexa to play your audiobook for you. Simply say, “Alexa, play the Audio Book, …” and provide the title. Consequently, it can read the books from your Kindle as well. “Alexa, play the Kindle book, …” and give the title.
In short, it is all about being creative with your commands, and the device will respond just like you wanted. You can jump the chapter of the book, come back to the previous chapter or go to a particular chapter. All you need to do is ask.
There are many trivia and puzzle games you can find in the Alexa database for free such as “Question of the Day” and “Jeopardy”. This popular type of game, apart from providing a source of entertainment, can play a very important role in stimulating the mind. This can be of utmost importance for those struggling with age-related memory issues (or even just boredom).
Games such as brain-teasers can keep your mind a quick and youthful source of knowledge. Games like the ones mentioned (among others) require fast thinking and therefore are said to be capable of delaying age-related memory issues.
Jokes and Riddles
Other entertainment options are jokes and riddles. Many people, including seniors, enjoy fun riddles and jokes- especially when they are free.
To receive this form of entertainment, simply say to your device, “Alexa, tell me a joke,” (or a riddle for that matter) and Alexa will be sure to deliver.
5. Setting a Reminder
A very common challenge that seniors face is forgetfulness. Setting a reminder is one of Alexa’s most powerful features for those who struggle with memory as it ensures that you remember any important reminder.
For example, you can set a reminder to take your medication at a particular time or set it to wake you up at a particular time from a nap. You could even have Alexa remind you to feed your dog at a certain time each day in order to provide you the comfort of knowing that you accomplished this task.
Prescription medication typically comes with strict guidelines for when to take the drug. It is common for many people of advanced age to face more complicated health challenges, thus resulting in an increase in medication.
To be certain of routinely taking your medication, you can simply set your Alexa to remind you. It can work with even multiple medications taken at different times. This way you will only have to set one reminder rather than a daily reminder or task to remember to take your medicine.
Simply say, “Alexa, at 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., remind me to take my medication.”
You can do the same with additional medication (or other reminders) or even set a reminder to set up the notification in the first place.
Keep Track of Lists
Managing many lists that have been written down on paper can sometimes be very difficult. You may misplace some, or there can be too many to know which is which. Additionally, decreased muscle tone (common with age) can make the act of writing more difficult.
Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Show will save you from this possible headache by using the Alexa feature. With it, you can create as many lists as you want including a shopping list, to-do list, list of your belongings, among others.
Start by saying, “Alexa, please create list.” Alexa will then ask you to choose a name for the list.
You can add something on the list and view your list whenever you want to.
Say, “Alexa, add an item to my grocery list,” and say the item you want to add.
By asking, “Alexa, what is on my grocery list?” your Echo will read the list aloud or your Echo Show will display the list for you to see. By using voice command, you eliminate the need to search for, maintain, or write down a list.
6. Control Smart Home Devices
Amazon Echo can form a central zone in your home that allows you to control all the other smart devices. Walking up and down to switch some household devices on and off may be a mountain to climb for someone with limited mobility.
Connecting your Smart Home devices with the Echo can be a more useful way of taking advantage of the ‘submissive’ Alexa device.
One task you can accomplish by simply commanding your Alexa Echo is adjusting your house temperature by commanding Alexa to control Smart Thermostat.
You can also use Alexa to control your television, control your home security system, turn on and off or change the color of the light of your smart bulbs, control your smartphone, among others.
It is common for people with vision problems (common among seniors) to stare at the light like that of a phone. Rather than having to stare at the screen to accomplish a task, simply ask Alexa to perform it for you.
Anytime you wish to switch your phone on or off, send a text message, or call someone, you may use voice command to ask Alexa to do so. This reduces the time spent looking at and searching for the correct buttons on a smartphone. All you need to do is say,
“Alexa, please call home”, or “Alexa, please send a message to ‘Daughter’.”
Tracking your Phone
With Alexa, you can also easily track down your cell phone should it go missing. Cell phones usually slip away into very tight spaces. Searching for it is a hard task and it can make you turn everything upside down. The searching process may be even more difficult if you have limited mobility or struggle with impaired vision.
Instead, activate the “find my phone” option and let Alexa find your cell phone for you.
Say, “Alexa, find my phone,” your phone will receive a ring that will set off a ringer so that you may find it.
Alerting a Friend for Help
In a much smarter way, you can set a way of alerting your friend for help. Usually, to alert someone for help involves making a phone call, sending a text message, or verbally yelling for help. But your phone may not always be accessible when you need it (otherwise why would you be shouting for help).
The “Alexa Ask My Buddy” skill will help you reach your friends, relatives, or a loved one for help whenever you need it. Enable “Ask My Buddy” skill, then enter the phone number of your friend/family member/loved one and you are good to go.
Whenever you need help, say, “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help,” and the entered contact will receive an alert.
Sending Message through an Echo Device
If you have an Echo device, and a senior you love has one in their house too, you can send messages or make calls between the echo devices. When you send a voice message to their device, a blue light at the top of the Echo will light up to let them know they have a new message.
To respond, all they have to do is to say, “Alexa, play my message.” This can be an easy way to maintain in contact quickly, especially in the case that you want a brief check-in but do not want to disrupt someone’s schedule with a long phone call.
7. Shop Online
Shopping online is growing increasingly common and useful today. It usually involves accessing producer websites and making orders.
For someone with limited mobility, online shopping increases the ability to receive goods at home without having to travel far. However, if you are unfamiliar with the technology required for online shopping, you may struggle to do so.
Alexa will make this process easier by allowing you to shop via voice command. On Amazon, for instance, you only need to have an Amazon Prime Membership and say,
“Alexa, order an outdoor pellet stove.” The device will then show you your options (depending on if you are using it paired with a visual or audio display).
Two days later, you will receive your product without having to have gone out to purchase it. It is important when shopping with Alexa to be specific with the brand you want and to review your order prior to submitting payment.
Alexa can make your work much easier while driving. For example, you can have your car start in a very simple way. If your car includes a remotely connected feature, then when you are commanding Alexa to start your car, you would simply add the brand of the remote. (For an article on cars compatible with Alexa, visit this link.)
With Alexa, the “I am Driving” Skill can let you know of the best route to a particular destination or give you a quick update on driving time.
You can get the best directions to five of your most traveled-to destinations by simply saying, “Alexa, I am Driving to Home.” Then, you will have the most convenient route to your home from wherever your starting point may be.
If you want locations that are currently on file, simply say “Alexa, what are my destinations?”
It can be hectic and dangerous to fumble your way through the dark, especially if you struggle with vision or live alone (as is common among many seniors). For instance, when going to the bathroom or bedroom late at night, it is important to have some type of lighting source to guide the way.
Alexa can provide a night light in a very convenient way. All you have to do is enable “Night Light” Skill in your Alexa account to create a night light out of your Echo device. Then say, “Alexa, open night light,” to start the flashlight and, “Alexa, Stop” to turn the light off.
10. Stay Active and Healthy
Remaining active and healthy is important regardless of your age. However, there are many ways in which Alexa can assist those of advanced age in particular.
Physical exercise is required to stay fit and healthy and is strongly recommended for those who may face a rise in health complications (common with age). To make this more convenient, let Alexa be your trainer. Add skills like “10- Minute Workout” to follow a daily exercise routine.
When you are ready to start, you just need to command Alexa, “Alexa, Start Ten Minute Workout,” for your routine to begin.
Moment of Relaxation
Another important aspect of health (especially among most seniors) is taking time to rest. Having some time in the day to have quiet reflection is a great way to take a break from the many activities of life.
Activate the “Peaceful Meditation” Skills for your device and say, “Alexa, open peaceful meditation,” to enjoy a moment of relaxation.
11. Words of Encouragement
Consequently, you can enable Daily Morning Affirmation skills for your Echo device to receive a word of encouragement every morning. Words of encouragement can start your day in a very positive manner, and can be particularly affirming for those living alone (which is common among senior citizens).
Say “Alexa, Open Daily Morning Affirmation,” and make your selection from there. Your Echo device and Alexa will share the words of encouragement, and you will receive the gift of personal satisfaction and routine affirmation.
12. Help in Managing Health Conditions
The fact that Alexa will never get tired of your repeated questions can be a very important quality for people suffering from dementia or other memory-related issues common with advanced age.
Those with dementia often ask questions repeatedly, need to be more entertained, and find themselves more frustrated whenever nobody is around. This usually frustrates caretakers as well. Alexa can make the best company to such persons by responding to every one of their needs and thus given them peace of mind without causing frustration to others.
Even though it cannot completely replace a human being when it comes to conversation, intelligent voice control can be very handy whenever someone needs daily storytelling, reading books, listening to music, among other forms of entertainment.
Moreover, people with memory-related conditions may struggle to remember daily activities; Alexa is always there to remind you of your daily routine.
People with Parkinson’s disease or morbidity issues also benefit greatly from this device. Someone with this condition can more easily switch all the lights across the room, turn on some music, adjust room temperature, and listen to audiobooks without making a move or feeling like they are bothering someone for help.
Cons of Senior Citizens Using Alexa
Alexa for senior citizens is not spared of its shortcomings. The major concern with this device (which can make it very dangerous for those who are unaware of how to use it) is privacy issues.
You will want to know how to protect yourself/loved one through responsible education/security and control settings. There are a few other downsides to senior citizens using an Alexa Assisted Device. Consider the following:
1. Privacy and Security Issues
The device usually comes with a microphone for voice command purposes. The microphone in itself imposes potential invasion of privacy. As if this is not enough, there are often added cameras.
While the intended use is good, having a camera that could capture your personal life may cause the picture to end up in the company server; naturally, this sounds very disturbing. The system is capable of analyzing your household devices, detecting when you are running out of an item and recommending that you buy it on Amazon.
Alexa also records your discussion. In as much as you can listen to your commands later and delete them, this data usually ends up to the company server for analysis. As such, someone can access your phone and view your latest conversation, know what you are interested in, your plans among others.
Normally, the threat of this information being hacked is not an issue, but it is still possible, especially with someone who may not entirely know how to prevent security threats from occurring.
2. Does Not Work with Every Smart Device
Alexa has not conquered being connected to every device in the smart home market. You can use voice command to control your house temperature for instance, but not with all thermostats.
For example, Honeywell Smart Thermostat does not work with an Echo device, so you would need another source of control (or to use your smart thermostat itself to accomplish this feature). Alexa assisted devices may also require some sort of software and hardware configuration to work with some brands.
3. It Can be Temperamental
When the system is down, the speaker usually fails several times. This is particularly frustrating for someone who may or may not know how to troubleshoot the device.
As an example, if this were to happen while reading a book, someone who did not know how to work the device well would likely be unable to easily return to their entertainment source. No one would want to experience such a disappointment.
4. It May Not Have Any Display to Show Visual Images
Unlike Siri on the iPhones, Alexa assisted Amazon Echo devices do display images such as maps or web searches. You have to rely completely on its audio output.
To be sure of which device you would be using and its capabilities, be sure to research (smart) devices that may be more appropriate for you or a senior citizen you care about.
5. The Echo Speaks a Limited Number of Languages
The Echo currently does not speak every language. Thus, if your main language is not one of the languages it is able to speak, then Alexa will not be able to assist you. Current languages that Alexa can speak include English, German, and Japanese.
6. The Echo is Not Portable
This device has to be plugged in at all times. The moment you unplug it, it turns off. The fact that it does not have a battery means that you cannot use it outside your house.
While this may not disrupt what you are using it for, it can be difficult for those with larger homes who may have to transport Alexa from room to room.
7. The Echo can only Answer Factual Questions
This device is limited to answering a question with proven facts like those you can find on the heading of a Wikipedia or Google answers.
While you can ask Alexa your own formulated questions like, “How can I train my dog to be smarter?” you may not receive an answer that is particularly useful.
8. Does not Respond to the Complicated Command
This device is not anywhere near replacing a human being when it comes to assistance. It limited to simple and basic issues.
While this device can still offer great assistance through daily tasks and routines, it is limited in the commands which it is able to accurately respond to and tasks it is able to perform.
9. Unable to Multitask
For the device to act, you must start your command by stating the name, “Alexa”. Suppose you wanted to give multiple instructions in a single statement? You must just give instructions one at a time.
Another shortcoming is that the audio from Amazon Echo cannot be sent to multiple Bluetooth speakers or headphones. Thus, you will find yourself limited to the number of devices that the audio can stream to.