Voice technology, which has long been the staple of sci-fi stories, has now become part of many people’s daily lives. Although the technology is not yet perfect, it’s improving every year, and is showing its usefulness when it comes to seniors.
For those with mobility issues, being able to order a taxi, get items delivered, or make calls without having to get up can be very helpful. For those with cognitive issues, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can help alleviate some of the pressure on caregivers by answering questions (no matter how many times they are asked), providing entertainment, or connecting them with friends and loved ones.
One of the best-known voice assistants is Alexa, the AI behind Amazon’s Echo smart-hub range. The Echo can make for a great gift for an older loved one, providing convenience and capability via simple voice commands. Amazon make three main types of Echo: the classic, which is tall and has excellent speakers; the Echo Dot which is smaller and cheaper, and is the most popular one; and the Echo Show, which has a screen that can display information like the time and weather, and is needed if you want to make video calls.
With a smart device, the amount of choice in what it can do can almost be overwhelming. Here’s a quick roundup of Alexa’s (and many other smart devices’) capabilities.
Alexa is connected to the internet, meaning that there is a wealth of information at your fingertips. Want to know who the 23rd President of the United States was, or what the weather will be like today? Perhaps you want to hear the news headlines? Just ask! This can be especially useful for seniors with cognitive issues, who worry about burdening a carer by repeatedly asking the same questions.
The Echo keeps track of time perfectly, meaning that you’ll not only always know what the time is, but also be able to set alarms and timers; great for knowing when something’s finished cooking in a different room! It also allows you to set reminders, which can be helpful if you have daily pills to take or exercises to do.
The Echo, like all similar smart devices, contains speakers, meaning that if you have existing music or podcast accounts, you can connect them to Alexa, and get access to your music library or the latest episodes. It also connects to audiobook accounts like Audible, so you can listen to just one more chapter!
Since Alexa is made by Amazon, this means you need to have a connected Amazon account. This also means that ordering from Amazon is a doddle! Once you’ve enabled voice purchasing, you can simply ask Alexa to buy something for you – don’t worry though, you can set a 4-digit code to stop the grandkids (or parrots) from getting carried away!
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