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Alexa for Seniors and Caregivers: Using Alexa for Elderly Loved Ones

24 minute readLast updated December 20, 2023
Written by Noah Bandt

Amazon’s Alexa is a virtual assistant that can provide peace of mind when seniors are alone — one of the most challenging times for many caregivers. With the Alexa Together service, caregivers can add an extra level of security to their loved one’s day, including making sure medications are taken on time and doors are locked.

Alexa offers a variety of other features and is compatible with several Amazon devices, as well as other devices like the Ring Doorbell or smart lightbulbs. Read on to learn what Alexa can do for your elderly loved ones and how to incorporate this technology into their homes.

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Alexa Together for seniors

Caregivers can help keep seniors safe by using Alexa Together, a subscription service that connects caregivers and seniors through their Amazon Echo devices. Senior caregivers can use this service to monitor and communicate with the elderly via their phones, as long as they have their own Amazon account and the Alexa app.[01]

One of the most important parts of a caregiver’s job is monitoring the physical health and well-being of an older person. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 40% of emergency visits that result in hospitalization are caused by just a few medicines that require special monitoring.[02]

Whether the caregiver wants to ensure their loved one receives medication reminders or they want to be alerted in the event of a fall, Alexa Together can provide caregivers with a clear view of a senior’s safety and well-being.

Another advantage is that Alexa Together is a senior-centric tool first.

“Alexa Together was designed with seniors’ comfort and confidence in their ability to remain independent at top of mind. Our primary goal is to give seniors and then their families peace of mind,” says Nicolas Maynard, senior manager of Alexa for Everyone.

Below are some specific features of Alexa Together.

Customized alerts

Caregivers can customize alerts to address a variety of concerns, such as when their loved one has or hasn’t completed tasks or when their loved one interacts with their devices. For instance, Maynard says that a contact sensor linked to Alexa Together can be placed on a door or a medicine cabinet. The contact sensor notifies the caregiver of the potential for wandering, or reassures the caregiver that medications have been taken.

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Alexa Emergency Helpline

This 24/7 urgent care line allows seniors to request emergency services through trained agents. Seniors can connect to an operator using the command, “Alexa, call for help,” and caregivers will automatically receive a notification that the Emergency Helpline has been contacted. This service can be useful for helping seniors who regularly make unnecessary 911 calls.

Unnecessary 911 calls are typically made by seniors who live alone or by people who are mentally ill.[03] Some of these callers believe that an emergency is occurring, while others are simply lonely and seeking company. The Alexa Emergency Helpline can help limit these unnecessary calls by connecting seniors with the most appropriate resource.

It’s important to note that, while an asset in emergencies, the Alexa Emergency Helpline is not a 911 service and does not call 911 directly.

Fall detection

Alexa Together’s fall detection feature monitors seniors via a range of sensors that immediately notify caregivers. Connecting a sensor to an Amazon device that uses Alexa together can allow caregivers to act quickly in the event of a fall. Options include the Vayvar Care wall-mounted sensor, which detects falls via sound, or this fall detection pendant by SkyAngelCare.

Remote assist

With the Remote Assist function, caregivers can set reminders, add contacts, manage grocery lists directly, and adjust the settings of an Echo device. Whether your loved one needs a notification to take their medications or a reminder to set up a doctor’s appointment, Remote Assist allows caregivers to lend a helping hand from afar.

Activity feed

The activity feed condenses all of the features into the Alexa app where caregivers can manage their alerts or access features like Drop In and Remote Assist. If enabled, the Drop In function allows caregivers and seniors to connect through audio or video calling at the touch of a button.

Circle of support

This feature allows several caregivers to stay up-to-date on an aging loved one’s well-being. Circle of Support enables up to 10 caregivers to connect to a device, meaning they’ll all receive daily alerts through the activity feed. Access to a loved one’s device can be easily granted and removed by the primary caregiver.

Routines

As part of the Remote Assist feature, Alexa Routines lets caregivers group several actions together. For instance, you and your loved one may create a Featured Routine to give a medication reminder and the weather report after their morning alarm goes off.

Need help getting started? Check out this handy Alexa Together Setup Guide.

Devices for using Alexa

If the Alexa Together subscription service doesn’t feel right for you and your loved one, you can still take advantage of the benefits of Alexa through Amazon’s smart devices.

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Amazon Echo devices for seniors

Amazon has a number of other products that feature Alexa. One of the most popular lines is Echo, a series of hands-free speakers and devices that can be controlled with your voice.

Consider the following models.

  • Echo Dot. With the Echo Dot, seniors can easily and affordably integrate Alexa into their homes. This is the smallest Alexa-compatible smart speaker that Amazon offers.

  • Echo Show 15. Resembling a picture frame, this is Amazon’s largest smart display. The device features an HD touch-screen display with facial and voice recognition software that can store helpful information from multiple users.

  • Echo Show 10. This device features a smaller HD touch-screen display with a motorized base that allows it to track your movement around the room.

  • Echo Studio. Offering immersive audio quality, this high-fidelity smart speaker offers 3D sound that can adapt to fit any room.

Other Alexa-compatible devices

You can further expand Alexa’s functionality by pairing your Amazon Echo with other smart home devices. Here are some other devices seniors can integrate into their homes.

·Alexa Smart Home. The devices under this umbrella include lighting, security cameras, and thermostats that can be operated using an Alexa device. These devices are also compatible with Alexa Emergency Assist, Amazon’s home security service.

·Ring Video Doorbell. When connected to Alexa, this HD-video doorbell system allows seniors and shared users to see, hear, and speak to anyone outside the door. You can monitor the doorbell directly from your phone, tablet, or computer. Ring also offers devices that can remotely turn on lights and lock doors.

·Amazon Fire Smart TV. This Alexa-compatible smart TV offers HD-quality video and comes with the Fire TV Stick, which can find your favorite apps, movies, and shows.

Setting up Alexa for elderly loved ones

However you decide to integrate Alexa into your or your loved one’s home, it’s essential to set up the device correctly and ensure that seniors can use all of its functions. For home setup, follow these easy steps:

  1. Purchase a device on Amazon.com and select “gift” at checkout so that the device doesn’t sync automatically with your Amazon account.
  2. Log in to your loved one’s Amazon account and activate the Alexa-compatible device.
  3. Find a spot where you know a senior can easily interact with the device — many people choose the nightstand or the living room. “For a better experience, placing a variety of devices, like an Echo Show, Echo, or Echo Dot, in rooms throughout the loved one’s home can help them more easily access Alexa as they go about their day,” Maynard says.
  4. Position the device in the center of the room, away from any TVs, windows, or potential hazards such as the kitchen sink.
  5. Make sure the device is at least six inches from the wall, with clearance on the top and sides.
  6. Customize the Alexa settings as desired. You can tell Alexa what to call you or change the command that activates the device to make it easier to remember.

Alexa for seniors with dementia

Virtual assistants like Alexa can be a useful tool for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Alexa can be used to help seniors cope with two of the earliest symptoms of dementia by keeping track of appointments or by looking up words they can’t remember. Alexa can also provide an informal type of music therapy — seniors simply need to ask Alexa to play the song they want to hear.

In times when caregivers can’t intervene, Alexa devices and Alexa Together can provide much-needed peace of mind.

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  1. [2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, October 11). Adverse drug events in adults.

  2. [3] Sampson, R. (2002). Misuse and abuse of 911. ASU Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.

Meet the Author
Noah Bandt

Noah Bandt is a former copywriter at A Place for Mom, where he focused on regulatory issues relevant to senior living and writes about emerging trends, including the benefits of voice-activated technology for those with dementia. Noah was the vice president of the Philosophy Club at Seattle University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy.

Edited by

Eric Staciwo

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