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Using the Amazon Echo to care for loved ones

Virtual Care

loving from a distance

For many American homes, voice-controlled speakers and personal assistant devices have become a norm of convenience. From turning up the music volume to dimming lights, Amazon’s line of Echo products have become a source of home-living ease for many. However, an often overlooked benefit of the Echo product line-up is the added ease of daily living it can provide our aging adults. And, in the time of social-distancing and medical isolation, these products can also increase connection and interaction with our loved ones without the need to compromise safety.

Multiple Devices

shared access

One of the great features of the Amazon Echo line-up is it does allow users to have multiple devices, in multiple homes, integrated under the same account in a variety of ways. In brief,  any device you set up with your loved one can easily be set up under your current Amazon account with their own profile, therefore giving you access to their lists, calendars, and more as you will read below. This new device set up is simple, following the same procedures as your initial device set-up and can be done through your Alexa application*. However, fuller guides are easily available should step-by-step help be needed.

Amazon has also released their Care Hub for an additional way to integrate devices, maximizing care and communication between families without any overlap in Amazon accounts. 

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Recommended Products for Remote Care

*Disclosure: We only recommend products based on our expertise in caring for aging adults. This site may contain affiliate links that (at no additional cost to you) we may earn an affiliate commission from. Read our full privacy policy here.

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Dementia

Practical

NEeds

For many aging adults, daily tasks such as going to the grocery store or picking up the dry cleaning can be exhausting. In a time where, for some, these activities are now more inaccessible than ever, having clear communication with family members and natural supports is imperative. The Echo product line-up has great value in aiding in these practical communication needs.

Grocery and shopping lists: Any loved one with an Echo device merely needs to alert the device (announcing “Alexa” is the default) and state that they would like to start a “December grocery list” or “Weekly errand list” and begin working with Echo’s dictation system to verbally create these lists through their device. A user can also always ask their device reminders of what is on their lists, edit them, or delete them. You then have access to these lists as well, through shared accounts or account access, and you can easily pull up any list they create through the app on your smartphone or tablet and even complete lists for them.

Appointment or medication reminders: Similarly, a user can create a slough of reminders and schedules through their Echo device, from daily medication reminders to adding doctor appointments to a schedule. To create a reminder or routine, your loved on simply needs to create it verbally through their device and you can see and edit it in your own home, and vice-versa. If access to your loved one’s full calendar is desired, you can easily link an existing calendar through Google, Microsoft, Apple and more. Linking these calendar accounts will allow you to not only see and manage your loved one’s appointments through the Alexa app but also will allow for the aging adult in your life to access their own calendar by simply verbally asking their device—no logging on, no daybook, no missed appointments. 

Connection

Benefits

 Along with the many day-to-day communication and safety benefits the Echo products offer, there are also a variety of ways to use the Echo system to engage more meaningfully with your loved one, especially in a time of separation.

“Drop in,” Calls or Messages: One of the more popular features of an Echo is the ability to “drop-in” on a loved one—a intercom-style system, that both parties must agree to, allows you to chat through your Echo devices without the need of calling. This can be an extremely quick form of communication, act as a surprise visit, and even keep your loved one safe. Or, if calling is more comfortable for your aging adult, anyone can simply use the Alexa feature on your Echo device to hands-free start a call with each other. Finally, you are also able to send messages back and forth through your Echo devices or through the Alexa app to another loved one’s device, and even create schedules for these messages to be sent at a specific time. All of these options allow for moments of sweet connection without the need of phone or computer screens or schedules.

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SAFETY FIRST

SAFETY PRODUCTS CAN MAKE BEDROOM AREAS EASIER TO NAVIGATE

  • Can your loved one get in and out of bed safely? If not, consider purchasing an electric bed or mattress. A Trapeze Bar can be installed if your loved one has difficulty getting out of bed. A Bed Rail can keep your loved one from falling from bed.
  • Is the light accessible from the bed? Install Night Lights.
  • Can the phone be easily reached? Place a cellular phone in a pocket attached to the bed rail.
  • Can clothing in the closet and dresser be reached? A grab tool may be helpful
  • Is there a clear path to the bathroom? A bedside commode or urinal may help with getting to the toilet, especially at night, which is a problem.
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Video CAlling

And Scheduling

Like any other appointment or scheduling task, your Echo product can easily record and remind your loved one of an upcoming video chat. Additionally, Amazon has released another level of Echo products that make face-to-face communication even easier through the Amazon Echo Show series. This line of products are enabled with all the Echo features with the added bonus of a video screen. Through the Echo Show device, make video calls to friends and family who have Skype, the Alexa app, or an Echo Spot product. You can also make voice calls, send messages just like any other Echo device.

Older Adults Have Unique Dementia Needs

Changing bodies and chemistry, changes in family and friendships, and changes in living situations all influence Dementia and need to be addressed. Sometimes, solving fundamental problems for older adults in your life can lower their stress, improve connections, and improve their outlook and mood.

Left untreated, Dementia can affect an individuals’ physical health and quality of life. Ask your loved one if he or she feels sad or anxious. Listen carefully and offer emotional support. Consult with a professional, such as those at WellQor, who are explicitly trained in the needs of older adults.

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