Innovation experts indicate that seniors are among those likely to gain the most by using assistive technology like Amazon’s voice-activated Alexa, although they aren’t the only ones to benefit.
From setting medication reminders to keeping in touch with friends or even just turning on the TV without fumbling with the remote, Alexa’s myriad safety and lifestyle features suit even the most tech-wary senior.
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Andre Bierzynski, a director with AARP Innovation Labs, says, “For seniors, the power of voice technology is transformative. In the past, I had to use my hands to do things, which can be challenging as we get older. With Alexa, there’s a low barrier to entry, because all you have to do is be yourself—there’s no coding, no log-in. And pretty much anyone’s got an inexpensive speaker in their house,” so it’s a concept they’re used to.
Bierzynski points to his elderly dad as an example of someone who’s embraced hands-free technology with open arms. “He loves all of his ‘smart speakers.’ ‘Alexa, let’s play “Jeopardy,”’ ‘Hey Alexa, tell me a joke,’ that sort of thing.”
Matt Smith, CEO of Speak2 Software, says that Alexa Skills can help keep the brain sharp. The company connects what he calls the “screen generation” to Grandma’s through all generations of Amazon Echo devices.
Alexa can help stave off feelings of loneliness, Smith adds. “The pandemic woke people up to the health impact of isolation.” The CDC has found that isolation and loneliness are risk factors for elderly health problems like dementia.
For Laurie M. Orlov, a technology writer and elder care advocate, one of her favorite Amazon Echo features is the video chat function to call family and friends.
Put safety first
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There’s a low barrier of entry to learning Alexa.
An Echo device is invaluable for the safety features alone, say the experts. Orlov points to new 24/7 emergency response functionality through Alexa Together. Or, by downloading the free My SOS Family Emergency Alert app, Alexa can be used as a medical alert device.
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