For some users, smart homes are a novelty that simply bring a degree of convenience. For others, those same features can allow for a level of independence that might otherwise not be possible. Fortunately, some of the most life-changing features for the elderly are also the cheapest and easiest to set up and use.
If there’s one device I recommend every senior citizen have in their home, it’s an Amazon Echo. Without adding a single other device, the Echo gives seniors the freedom to interface with the outside world through Alexa, hands-free and without even moving. For example:
- “Alexa, remind me to take an aspirin in 6 hours.”
- “Alexa, add apples to my grocery list.”
- “Alexa, send Steven a text message.”
- “Alexa, call Dallas Fire Rescue.”
The Amazon Echo’s communication features have taken a significant lead against alternatives like Google Home. One example of this is the “drop-in” feature where you can allow certain people talk/listen directly into the room as though they’re in the same house.
A system like this helps pick up where some of the pendant-style systems (“I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!”) leave off. They can certainly be great tools, but I worry that someone may not remember to wear those devices every time they get out of bed or up from their chairs, or want to have a piece of technology hanging around their neck 24/7 for the rest of their lives. And don’t get me started on monthly monitoring fees and long-term contracts.
Amazon is careful to caution users that the Echo should not be solely relied upon in emergencies, and there is certainly truth to that. It is dependent on power and an internet connection, and if those happen to be offline, then so is Alexa. And although it supports calling your contacts, it doesn’t support dialing 911. A solid workaround for this is saving contacts in your phone named “[city] Police Department” or “[city] Fire Rescue” with the full, 10-digit phone numbers for your city’s police and EMS departments. The Echo can then call these like any other contact.
Starting at $24.99, the Amazon Echo Dot is a highly practical and affordable option for seniors. They can also be used with the larger versions which are more aesthetically pleasing and have far better sound quality for music.
While no system is perfect, I absolutely sleep better at night knowing that my parents are never more than a yell away from reaching me or emergency services. From my point of view, for senior citizen’s looking to augment their independence, an Amazon Echo in each room is the way to go.