Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, comes built-in to their popular Echo Dot smart speakers and Echo Show smart displays (basically, a smart speaker with a screen). Now you can also find “Alexa Built-In” products like headphones, smart TVs, fitness trackers, soundbars, and other devices.
Let’s examine some ways older adults can utilize Amazon Alexa to automate routine tasks and manage appointments and important reminders.
Automate Common Tasks
Using features like Alexa Routines and others, older adults can utilize the convenience of a digital assistant to automate common tasks, such as:
- Scheduled appointment reminders
- Medication reminders
- Mealtime reminders
- Hydration reminders
- Activity reminders
Example: “Alexa, remind me every day at 9 pm to take my medication.”
Afterward, every day at 9:00 pm, Alexa will tell you to take your medication. You can edit or delete reminders using the Alexa app.
Interact with Smart Home Devices
Alexa can also interact with other smart home devices, like smart wall plugs and thermostats. Besides the Alexa Built-In devices noted above, Alexa can interact with other smart home devices on your home network and online services, including:
- Turning lights on and off.
- Climate control.
- Accessing news, information, and entertainment.
- Lawn mowing.
- Lawn watering.
- Calling friends, family, and caregivers.
- Playing music services like Spotify.
- Watching streaming programming on services like Netflix.
“Alexa, turn on the living room light.”
“Alexa set the thermostat to 72 degrees.”
“Alexa, call Don Stewart.” (Calls a person named Don Stewart from your contacts.)
“Alexa, play Nina Simone.”
Grouping Tasks with Alexa Routines
Alexa Routines allow you to group tasks and run them using a keyword phrase. By creating a routine called “Good Morning,” we can instruct Alexa to:
- Start the coffee maker using a smart plug.
- Display the news on the Echo Show screen.
- Play your favorite wake-up music.
- Display your appointments for the day.
You start the routine by saying “Alexa, good morning.” You can also configure routines to start at a specific time on specific days.
Here are some examples of other routines you can create.
“Alexa, it’s happy hour.” This routine could:
- Reduce smart bulb illumination to set the mood.
- Play jazz music on Spotify.
“Alexa, it’s bedtime.” This routine could:
- Lock your front door’s smart lock.
- Turn off lights everywhere you specify, such as all rooms but the bedroom.
- Play sleep sounds on Spotify.
Routines are created, modified, and deleted using the Alexa app.
Alexa Together is a subscription service that enables families and caregivers to monitor the well-being of their aging loved ones and for older adults to get additional support from their Circle of Support as needed. All that’s required is an Alexa Together subscription and an Echo device.
Alexa Together adds numerous features to existing Amazon Echo and Echo Show devices. The service can enhance an older adult’s safety while giving families and caregivers greater peace of mind. Older adults can continue living independently with whatever additional support they require.
I reviewed Alexa Together in detail in a previous edition of this column.
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