Amazon Alexa Guide for Seniors
Keeping up with today’s rapidly changing technology is a challenge for many people. The challenge becomes far more difficult for a senior trying to understand the benefits of voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa.
As a senior, the most important thing to understand about Alexa is that it’s designed to be as easy as talking to a person. No buttons, switches, or plugs to mess with constantly. As long as you can verbally communicate, Alexa can help.
Alexa is helpful in various ways, but certain features are even more useful for the elderly. This article will focus on the benefits of Alexa for seniors.
Are you curious about how Amazon Alexa can benefit seniors? Check out the information below to learn about the smart device and helpful ways to use it.
What is Amazon’s Alexa and Amazon Echo?
An Amazon Echo device is a voice-controlled smart speaker that can perform various tasks.
Alexa is the voice that serves as the Echo’s virtual assistant. Alexa can help out with things like playing your favorite song or creating lists and timers. Beyond these simple commands, Alexa can also handle more advanced tasks. Some of my favorites are turning the lights on and off or controlling the thermostat.
Alexa’s capabilities are vast. In addition to the Echo’s built-in features, Alexa can also connect with other third-party apps to expand features. These third-party apps are called Skills.
When you add a Skill to your Alexa control panel, you also add to its capabilities. You’ll be able to do things like listen to a book on tape, play a trivia game, or connect to other smart devices in your home.
Senior Benefits of Amazon Alexa
Everyone can benefit from Alexa, but seniors, in particular, may find the voice-controlled, hands-free management especially useful. If you’re a senior considering getting an Amazon Alexa for your home, here are a few benefits you’ll enjoy:
The stand-out feature of Alexa is its hands-free tasking. Nearly 50 percent of adults over the age of 65 suffer from arthritis. Alexa helps by allowing you to accomplish tasks without having to use your hands.
In a home with an Alexa, there’s no need to write, dial numbers, type, or press buttons to accomplish simple tasks. You can even ask Alexa simple math questions, or how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon. Alexa will respond with the correct answer.
Assistance for the Visually Impaired
Many seniors also struggle with visual impairments. According to the organization Prevent Blindness America, over 2.5 million seniors 65 and up have vision impairment. This figure does not even include legally blind individuals, which adds 1.1 million seniors. Alexa’s features allow the visually impaired to check the weather forecast or learn about the latest news with voice commands only. No more squinting to read a newspaper or phone screen.
Just say, “Alexa, what’s the current forecast” or “Alexa, what’s in the news”.
Performing Basic Jobs
Small things like taking the stairs to adjust the thermostat or getting out of bed to turn the lights off become more challenging as adults get older.
When Alexa connects to smart home devices through Skills, seniors can take care of these basic jobs without the need for mobility. This reduces the risk of a slip and fall injury.
With a simple command of “Alexa, turn on the lights,” or “Alexa, turn up the heat,” the home instantly becomes safer and more convenient.
Creating a Safer Home
Some older adults choose to move into an assisted living facility in their later years. However, a 2018 AARP survey revealed that 76 percent of Americans over the age of 50 would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age.
Staying at home is great, but there are safety risks that come along with this. Should you fall or hurt yourself, it may be challenging to get help. If you have an Amazon Alexa nearby, it’s easy to contact a family member for assistance by calling them using only your voice.
Getting Started with Amazon Alexa
Before you begin using your Amazon Alexa, you must complete a few set-up steps first. These steps are relatively simple.
To start using the features that Alexa has to offer, be sure to:
- Manually connect the Amazon Echo to a power source
- Download the Alexa app on whatever smart device you primarily use (laptop, phone, or tablet)
- Select “Set Up New Device” within the app
- Log in to the app using your Amazon account information (or the account information of the loved one setting it up)
- Connect to your WiFi network
With these steps completed, you’re ready to learn all the entertaining, informative, and helpful features of your Amazon Alexa.
Alexa Uses for Seniors
Alexa’s skills can help seniors do anything. From making a grocery list to remembering medications to calling loved ones without even the push of a button.
Get familiar with some of the incredible things Alexa can help seniors accomplish at home and learn what additional Skills you can add for extra help.
The music player is a classic Alexa feature. It is one of Alexa’s most popular features for users of all ages.
Alexa comes connected to your Amazon music account. However, you can also hook it up to platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and more.
It’s easy to access the music you want, whether it’s in your playlists or just something you’re dying to hear. Say, “Alexa, play 60s music” or, “Alexa, play music by the Beatles.”
The music feature is excellent for seniors who don’t have the dexterity or energy to fiddle around with vinyl albums, CD players, or even streaming devices like TVs or computers. With just one spoken sentence, your music will begin playing.
Making Telephone Calls
Communication technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past several decades. First, corded phones became cordless. Then, cell phones made most landlines obsolete. Today, there’s no need even to pick up a phone to make a call, thanks to Alexa.
Seniors need to stay connected to their friends and family, and Alexa has made that easier than ever with its calling feature. By saying, “Alexa, call Mary,” you’ll automatically be connected as soon as Mary picks up. And on some Alexa devices, you can also make video calls to see your loved ones while you talk.
Set Reminders for Medications
Around 87 percent of seniors between 65 and 85 currently take at least one prescription a day. Even still, many seniors take upwards of 5 pills each day.
Staying on top of prescribed medications is critical for seniors. The trouble is that many seniors struggle with memory problems. Keeping track of several medications with differing schedules doesn’t make it any easier.
With Alexa, you can set reminders to take your medications at the appropriate times. All you have to do is say, “Alexa, remind me to take my medication at 6 p.m. tonight,”. You can also say “Alexa, remind me to take my medication when I get home today.”
Making lists is a whole lot easier with Alexa. There’s no need to find a pen or paper; all you need to do is call out the items you want to add.
Start by saying, “Alexa, make a list.” Then, start creating your grocery, packing, or to-do list as you please.
The list skill is already integrated into Alexa’s system. There is no third-party app needed.
Hands-free list-making can help seniors with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or other issues.
You can also order many items on Amazon.com with the hands-free Alexa device. Purchase regularly-bought items by asking Alexa to “Add granola bars to my shopping list”. You can even order the items on the spot with a secret passcode.
Set Reminders for Critical Items
In addition to medication reminders, the Echo comes equipped with the capability to create reminders within your calendar. These reminders can be for important things like doctor’s appointments.
These reminders can also be a great way for seniors’ loved ones to add small tasks or tips to their schedule. For example, your daughter could add a reminder to give her a call every Monday evening for a weekly check-in.
Get the Latest News
A favorite Alexa feature for seniors is listening to the news without having to find the remote or pick up the newspaper. For many seniors that face dexterity and memory challenges, voice-controlled news access can be beneficial.
You can set up with your favorite news platform (Fox, ABC, NPR, etc.) by downloading the app. All you have to do in the morning is say, “Alexa, read me the latest news.”
You can also customize the news feed with stories from your favorite new outlets. You hear a personalized feed every time you ask for your daily news.
Check the Weather
Alexa makes it simple to check the weather for the current and upcoming forecast. All from the comfort of your own chair. To do so, just say “Alexa, what’s the current forecast?” and you’ll know whether to grab a winter coat or an umbrella that day.
You’re also able to check the conditions for other areas or an extended forecast for a different city. With a simple question to your Alexa, you can plan how to pack for your upcoming trip to Florida.
“Alexa, what’s the forecast for Daytona Beach, Florida next week”.
Change the Lighting
If you have other smart devices in your home, then Alexa can connect with them for voice control.
For example, you can turn your smart lights on and off by saying, “Alexa, turn off the lights.” You can even adjust dimmable lights by saying, “Alexa, dim the lights”. This is very convenient when you are relaxing and watching TV in the evening or turning on the dining room lights at dinner time.
For seniors, a little extra light can go a long way. Voice-powered lighting adjustments can make getting out of bed or making your way around the house at night safer and more comfortable. It can also save you a few trips up or down the stairs if you live in a multi-story home.
Adjust the Temperature
Another feature you can enjoy with the help of an additional smart home device is temperature control. If you have a smart thermostat, you can ask Alexa to adjust the temperature as needed.
Already in bed and don’t want to leave the warmth of the covers? Just say, “Alexa, turn the heat up two degrees,” and stay right where you are.
You can also use Alexa to set your thermostat at a specific temperature or set up a regular temperature schedule. For example, if you’re babysitting the grandkids at their home every Friday, you can ask Alexa to turn the thermostat up during the hours you’re usually gone.
Lock the Doors
You can also connect smart locks to your Alexa for voice-activated security. If you’re watching a movie on the couch when you realize you left the front door unlocked, you can ask Alexa to handle it for you while you finish your film.
The voice lock feature is also handy for seniors with mobility issues, saving you from having to walk when it’s not necessary. Just say, “Alexa, lock the front door” or ask “Alexa, is the back door locked”.
Amazon Alexa Tips and Tricks for Seniors
The best part about Alexa is how simple it is to use. Still, there are a few tips and tricks that will make using yours even simpler.
Mute or Adjust Wake Up Word
The device is always on, waiting to hear it’s wake up word, “Alexa.” If you don’t want it on all of the time, or if you’d prefer to use a different wake word than “Alexa”, you or a loved one can change this through the Alexa app settings.
Get Traffic Updates
For seniors driving regularly, you can input your daily route into the Alexa app (via settings>traffic) and ask Alexa for any traffic details. You can also use Alexa to find the quickest route to your favorite store, and whether it’s open today.
“Alexa, how is the traffic to Kohls”
Make Purchases Via Voice
Shopping just got a lot easier. You can purchase items you need on Amazon easily with Alexa. However, you can also prevent Alexa from automatically purchasing items by requiring a unique PIN at checkout.
“Alexa, order size AA batteries”
Independence is critical for seniors.
As you become older, sustaining a level of independence can contribute to a higher quality of life. Alexa helps elderly folks maintain a feeling of freedom through the use of voice-activated commands.
Your Echo device can assist with things from medication reminders and traffic updates to weather reports and lighting changes.
Alexa is also fun! You can play games like Jeopardy or have Alexa tell the grandkids a joke.
If you want to take back your independence and lead a rich and full life, Amazon Alexa can help.
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