Alexa For Seniors: 6 Ways She Can Help Improve Your MemoryJul 19, 2022
Let’s face it... forgetfulness is frustrating, at any age!
There is never a good time to realize you’ve forgotten a birthday, missed an appointment or let the time slip by you without taking that pill or mailing that card. Oops, not again.
While those mild memory lapse, or “senior moments" can be agitating or downright embarrassing, thankfully, new technology is available to help you support your memory.
In this article, you will learn:
- How assistive technology can provide memory support for you or a loved one
- How to use Alexa for seniors
- 6 ways Alexa can help you support your memory
- The different Amazon Alexa devices and which one is best for you or your loved one
Let's dive in to learn all about Alexa for seniors.
Alexa for Seniors
Assistive technology is a great way to support your memory. Not only can it be easy to use but if you set it up properly, it can automatically remind you to do so many different things that may have otherwise been forgotten.
I know, I know, technology is intimidating at times. Especially if you’re getting older or you're not one to keep up with the latest and greatest gadgets and apps. I get it! But Alexa for seniors doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, once you set up your Alexa device, she's quite easy to use.
Here's a glimpse of what reminders Alexa can provide:
- Pills. No more forgetting medications
- Appointments. Oh right, that was today!
- Timers. Set it and forget it.
- Birthdays and holidays. Time to restock my greeting cards.
- Events. Another potluck?
Before we dive into the best Alexa devices for seniors, let’s discuss why memory strategies are important.
What Are Memory Strategies?
Memory strategies are techniques for organizing information to be stored for later access.
In other words, memory strategies are ways to help you remember things. As you age, you may find that you need to be more intentional with memory strategies to support your short-term recall. One way to do that is to utilize external memory supports.
External memory supports are tangible reminders including:
- Written notes
- Calendars or planners
- To-do lists
- Assistive technology such as phones, iPads, smart watches or Amazon Alexa
Using Alexa for Seniors to Help Support Memory
Alexa for seniors is the perfect device to provide daily reminders. Setting up reminders can take the pressure off of you or your loved to just remember while helping you remain accountable and reliable for the information you need to recall later.
Alexa is basically a voice-based home assistant. She is super powerful and relatively easy to use. Let's be honest, there's a reason she’s become a household name! She can connect with your phone, extend to multiple rooms of your house and listens when you call her name.
Best of all, Alexa is the perfect device to support seniors with memory loss.
Alexa has many easy-to-use features including multiple options for audio, visual memory and voice-activated reminders.
Amazon Alexa can help you:
- Set medication reminders. Alexa, remind me to take my Lisinopril every day at 8:00am.
- Schedule a calendar event. Alexa, add an appointment to my calendar.
- Make lists. Alexa, add bananas to my grocery list.
- Answer questions. Alexa, when does the pharmacy open?
- Make phone calls. Alexa, call Gail.
- Set timers. Alexa, set a 10-minute timer and name it “pasta-timer.”
Name another reminder system that can help you do all of that (no, not your spouse.)
Alexa for Seniors with Memory Loss
Alexa can help seniors experiencing subtle signs of memory loss or mild cognitive impairment manage day-to-day tasks. Even for the senior who doesn't like to admit to memory challenges. Setting up Alexa and teaching someone how to use it early can pay off in the long run, especially if memory decline continues and learning new skills becomes more challenging.
Alexa for Seniors with Dementia
As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I worked for many years in independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Part of my job with cognitive therapy was initiating memory support. I recommend using Alexa for seniors with dementia to optimize independence for as long as possible.
Alexa can help your loved one with dementia with reminders throughout the day. You can set up alerts for mealtimes, which is super helpful if your loved one is new to living in a facility, or if they want to remain more independent at home. You can also set wakeup alarms, appointment reminders and more.
Additionally, you can set up Alexa for seniors with dementia to be a digital picture frame with all of their favorite memories. When you set this up, they can view the pictures while also repeatedly seeing the time of day, date, etc. This can be helpful if someone is beginning to lose track of time or become disoriented.
As with anything, the sooner you set up Alexa for seniors with dementia, the better. This allows more time to learn how to use it early on so it can continue to serve them for as long as possible as the dementia progresses.
Let's talk about all the ways Alexa can help seniors...
According to the department of health and human services, up to 55% of seniors fail to follow the correct instructions for taking medications. Much of this can be attributed to forgetfulness or memory loss impacting safe medication intake.
This is a problem because for a medication to be effective, it must be taken correctly, including the time and frequency as prescribed.
But life happens. Forgetfulness happens. You get interrupted from your usual routine by a knock on the door or your dog getting out and you come back and think, “did I take my medication already?” Or worse, it slips your mind entirely while you chase your dog down with treats and it doesn’t hit you until you see the missed pill in your pillbox the next day.
Alexa for seniors can help.
With Alexa, a medication reminder is as simple as saying, “Alexa, remind me to take my medication at 8:00AM every day.” Or "Alexa, manage my medication."
Alexa will remind you, even if you’ve been distracted by something else.
Using Alexa for Seniors to Remember an Appointment
If you don’t already use your phone calendar, it’s a great time to start. Setting phone reminders is another way to release the burden of just having to remember.
Bonus: If you download the Google calendar app, you can link it to your Alexa device. That way a calendar event is as easy as saying, “Alexa, add an appointment to my calendar for the Audiologist at 2:00 on the 24th.” She will repeat it back to you to confirm.
If it’s not connected, you can still use Alexa to set a reminder by saying, “Alexa, set a reminder for 10:00am on May 24th to remind me about my Audiologist appointment. Again, she will repeat it back to you to confirm and then she will remind you on the day of the appointment.
Using Alexa for Seniors to effortlessly make and manage lists
Does your grocery list have a way of disappearing? Making lists is a great way to support your memory... as long as you can keep track of your list, add all the items you need and then remember to take it with you when you leave the house to run errands.
Alexa can help you manage lists with ease.
Creating a list on Alexa is as easy as saying, “Alexa, start a grocery list." Then you can follow up at any time with, "Alexa add bananas to my grocery list," for as many items as you need.
You can create a list for anything including:
- Grocery lists
- A list to help you pack for a vacation
- Holiday gift lists for all the grandkids
- A holiday meal shopping list
- A to-do list for yourself or someone else, like a housekeeper
Alexa will hold on to the information for as long as you need, and she can read it back to you or display it on her Amazon show screen.
She can answer everyday questions
There is no need to fumble with Google when your hands are full. You can ask Alexa all of your burning questions.
Ask Alexa anything:
- “Alexa, how long to elephants live?”
- “Alexa, when does the pharmacy open?”
- “Alexa, what should I preheat the oven to bake sweet potatoes?”
She will answer or provide you with web pages that give you the answers you're looking for.
Alexa can make phone calls for seniors
Making phone calls is another helpful feature on Alexa. You can remain hands-free while cooking in the kitchen, make a quick call without searching for your phone or make an emergency phone call to a family member for help.
All you have to say is, "Alexa, call John," and she will connect you. This is especially helpful for seniors with difficulty moving around. It’s important to note that Alexa does not currently make phone calls to 911 or other emergency services. Calls for help will have to go to a trusted family member or a friend.
Bonus: You can call your own phone if/when you misplace it or use the Phone Finder skill on Alexa to help you locate your device.
Using Alexa for Seniors to set timers
Of all the features on Amazon Alexa, this one is my favorite! Personally, I use Alexa to set all-the-timers. Bedtime timers for my kids, kitchen timers while I'm cooking, timed reminders to water the plants. It's such an easy-to-use, super helpful feature.
All you have to do is say, “Alexa, set a 5-minute timer.” You can name the time to stay organized. This feature can be helpful to seniors for cooking timers, reminders to turn off the oven, appointment reminders, etc.
The features on Amazon Alexa endless and easy to use, even if you're not tech savvy.
Alexa can play fun brain games for seniors
Staying cognitively engaged is critical as you get older. Seniors can enjoy using Alexa to access many different brain games.
Free brain games on Alexa:
- Memory Recall Training. A passage will be read out to you. Concentrate, listen carefully, and try to remember what is said. Afterwards you will be asked some questions which will test your comprehension and memory. Continue to play and train yourself to recall details more easily.
- Brain Workout. Each workout is fun, interactive, and personalized with exercises that adjust over time to maximize results. The more you train with Brain Workout, the more you’ll improve critical cognitive skills that are proven to boost productivity and self-confidence.
- Question of the day. The game works like this: each day you get a trivia question from Alexa, from one of six categories. The categories are randomly chosen, so your craving cranium can feast on a variety of fascinating facts. You can earn bonus questions, collect points, and compete against other fans.
- Jeopardy. Did you know that every Jeopardy! category has an “extra” 6th clue? Now you can play those clues on Alexa! With a single voice command, test your knowledge with new clues every weekday.
- Word of the Day. Expand your vocabulary by learning a word of the day and challenging yourself to use it.
There are a ton of fun, brain-teasing apps. You can even do a Word of the Day in another language, like Spanish, to learn something new or practice for your next adventure to abroad.
Now that we have explored what Alexa can do for seniors, let's discuss the different Amazon Alexa devices.
Explore the Best Amazon Alexa Devices for Seniors
Here are the best Alexa devices for seniors in order from the most feature packed (and higher cost) devices to the more simple (lesser expensive) versions:
The Echo Show 10
The Echo Show 10 has 10.1” HD screen designed to move to you, so can make phone calls or video calls, view recipes and watch shows from wherever you are around the room.
This is perfect for the busy body in the kitchen that needs frequent timers, reminders and recipes in sight. It also allows you to video with family and friends without holding a device, bouncing in and out the camera, or getting a nice view of your loved one's ceiling or up their nose while Facetiming.
The Echo Show 8
The Echo Show 8 boasts many of the same features as the one above, with an 8” HD touchscreen for reminders, music and video conferences with family. It’s the perfect size for that little corner in your kitchen. You can even set it up as an electronic photo frame with a slideshow of your (or your loved one's) favorite memories.
The Echo Dot
The Echo Dot is more compact and inconspicuous. It’s perfect for small spaces and powerful hands-free help and reminders. Though she’s small, she’s mighty! Her speaker is great for music (hello dancing in the kitchen) and she has all the skills of the larger devices - minus the visual display.
The Echo Dot
This version of The Echo Dot is sleeker and offers a ring of light on the bottom of the device to signal when she is listening. If you’re big on music, I recommend this version of the Echo Dot for its premium sound speaker.
The bottom line
Alexa can be a fabulous device for seniors. From her reminders to her video calling and safety features, it's a great choice for someone looking to support their memory or searching for ways to help a senior remain independent. There are many different Alexa devices, at varying price points that make it a great and accessible option for seniors.
Alexa is easy to set up and even easier to use. It's great for anyone who is experiencing mild memory loss or other cognitive changes that may require additional support. It's perfect for seniors living in independent and assisted living centers that may need visual reminders or audio cues to take medications, make a phone call or remember an event.
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