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Tips on How to Use Alexa for Seniors

Discover the many ways that Alexa can improve quality of life for your aging parents.

By Seniorly Editor · Updated Sep 28, 2021
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The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated, artificial intelligence machine that you can speak to and ask questions. Alexa is the voice of the Echo, who takes actions based upon your commands and responds when you talk to the device. You can use it to get news reports, check the weather, play music, and so much more. All you need to do is say “Alexa,” and it wakes the device instantly. 

Maybe you’re already using Alexa in your own home, but have you thought about how Alexa could help your parents? At first glance, Alexa may just seem like another tech toy, but it actually offers some significant benefits for seniors. Here’s a closer look at some of the ways Alexa can improve quality of life for aging parents while giving you additional peace of mind. 

Provides helpful alarms and reminders

Alexa is excellent for providing seniors with helpful alarms and reminders, whether they need a prompt to take dinner out of the oven or they need medication alerts so they never miss a dose. Your parents can simply ask Alexa to notify them about an event or to set a timer, and they’ll get a reminder or alarm at the correct time.  

These special alerts from Alexa can also be helpful for seniors dealing who require memory care. Alexa can help seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s stay on track with their schedule and keep up with medications. It can even answer questions about what day of the week it is or what time it is for seniors who may be forgetful.   

Makes shopping easier 

As your parents grow older, they may become more prone to leaving their shopping list behind or forgetting to put essential items on the list. With Alexa, shopping becomes easier for seniors. Your parents can use voice commands to create their shopping list with Alexa, and the list can be accessed at the store on the Amazon Alexa app. For seniors with limited mobility or transportation, Alexa can easily order frequently used items and bulk groceries from Amazon, and those items will be delivered to their door. 

Use with home automation to overcome mobility issues 

The benefits of Alexa for seniors goes far beyond just talking and listening – Alexa is compatible with smart home appliances for easy home automation. Once you have Alexa set up to intelligent appliances that are made to work with Alexa such as thermostats, or lights, they can be controlled with your voice. Seniors can ask Alexa to turn the thermostat up or down. It’s easy to climb into bed and then have Alexa turn off the lights. You can even find coffee makers that work with Alexa and get a cup brewing with a simple command. While this technology is beneficial for anyone, they’re especially helpful to seniors who have mobility issues, making life a bit easier and safer for them at home. 

Fun and entertainment 

Alexa provides fun and entertainment for seniors as well. Your parents can quickly tune into their favorite radio stations to listen to music or other shows. They can listen to music they enjoy without the need to worry about handling CDs or having a radio at home. Alexa can also be set up to work with certain TVs so seniors can control their television with voice commands as well, making it easy to find, play, and pause their favorite shows.  

Promotes emotional health by offering companionship 

Many older adults report that they just enjoy the companionship of having Alexa in their home. Research has shown that loneliness can cause seniors to become physically ill, and that sense of camaraderie for older adults can keep them healthier. Alexa offers a voice that will respond to your parents’ questions, she can tell jokes, or even read stories to seniors to keep them occupied. Although Alexa is no replacement for human companionship, having Alexa in the home may help alleviate the quietness and loneliness seniors sometimes experience, particularly those that live alone. 

Check in with family members 

Your parents can also use Alexa to check in with family members. If you have an Echo in your home and your parents have one, it’s easy to send voice messages between the devices. Alexa can even be used with specific apps to take calls. For example, with the AskMarvee app, it’s possible for seniors to connect with family members immediately for just a check-in or if there’s a more serious problem going on. 

While there are several different models of Alexa, the Echo Show allows you to see photos, recipes, song lyrics and much more. It also allows you to call a family member or friend that has the same device. Just like facetime, you are able to see and speak to your loved ones in real time. 

Voice-assistive technologies like the Amazon Echo with Alexa are beginning to play a more prominent role in helping seniors age in place, particularly when they are paired together with apps specifically designed for senior living. Whether your parents are living independently or reside in an assisted living community, Alexa offers many benefits to seniors. It’s reasonably priced, easy to set up for your parents, and it gives you extra peace of mind when you can’t be there with them in person.  

This piece is part of our Healthy Aging Handbook, read the next one to learn more about helping aging parents: 8 Signs it is Time to Consider Senior Living
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