Alexa Can Help You Remember Things: 6 Ways to Use Alexa for SeniorsJul 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 for short term memory help.
Assistive technology for memory loss or memory support is a great way to utilize modern memory strategies for those moments.
I know, I know, technology can feel intimidating at times, especially if you’re not one to keep up with the latest and greatest gadgets, apps, and updates... but technology for memory support doesn’t have to be complicated.
In fact, with the right device, technology as a supplement for memory support can help with remembering things that are frequently slipping by.
Help to remember…
- 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?
Can all be a voice reminder away!
So, what exactly is this all-in-one-memory-helping device?
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 remember things. Your brain does this internally with new information. As you age, though, you might find that you need to be more intentional with memory strategies to improve 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 for memory
These compensatory memory strategies for adults provide you with a visual or audio reminder, which takes the pressure off you to just remember and helps you remain accountable and reliable for the information you need to recall later.
Introducing Amazon Alexa
Amazon Alexa is a basically a voice-based home assistant. She is super powerful and relatively easy to use. For this reason, she’s become a household name. She can connect with your phone, extend to multiple rooms of your home and listens when you call her name.
And best of all… Amazon Alexa is the most useful tool for seniors with memory loss or forgetful adults.
With easy-to-use features, multiple options for audio and visual memory supports and voice-activated reminders, Alexa can be your household external memory support friend.
Let’s explore what Alexa can help you with…
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 blueberries 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 “oven-baked potatoes.”
Name another reminder (no, not your spouse) that can help you do all of that.
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 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 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."
She’ll remind you, even if you’ve been distracted by something else.
Schedule a Calendar Event
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 dermatology appointment.
Does your grocery list have a way of disappearing? Mine does. It seems like I can never find that list I’ve started or I always seem to leave it at the house when I leave for the store.
Alexa can help.
Creating a list on Alexa is as easy as, “Alexa, start a grocery list. Add blueberries to my list.”
You can create a list for anything you need:
- Grocery lists
- Packing for vacation lists
- Holiday gift lists
She 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.
There is no need to fumble with Google when your hands are full. You can ask Alexa all of your burning questions.
“Alexa, how long to elephants live?”
“Alexa, when does the pharmacy open?”
“Alexa, what should I preheat the oven to for roasted root vegetables?”
Make Phone Calls
Making phone calls is another helpful feature on Alexa. You can remain hands-free while cooking in the kitchen, make a quick call in a pinch without searching for your phone or make an emergency phone call to a family member for help.
“Just say, Alexa, call Tim.” And she will connect you to any one of the contacts in your phone.
It’s important to note that Alexa does not currently make phone calls to 9-1-1 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 locate your device.
Of all the features on Amazon Alexa, this one is my favorite!
I use Alexa to set bedtime timers for my kids, kitchen timers when my hands are dirty while cooking and timers for various other things around the house.
“Alexa, set a 5-minute timer.”
You can even name them to stay organized.
The features on Alexa are endless.
You can even use Alexa’s memory boosting games for a fun way to challenge your mind.
Entertaining (and free) memory boosting 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’ve discussed the easy-to-use power of Alexa, let’s explore the different options you have to purchase one (or two) of them for around the house.
Amazon Alexa Devices
Here are the best Alexa devices for seniors in order from the most feature packed (and expensive) device 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’s also neat to be able to video with family and friend without holding a device and bouncing in and out the camera (or getting a nice view of your ceiling and up your nose while Facetiming)
The Echo Show 8
The Echo Show 8 boasts many of the same features, 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 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 (minus the visual display) of the larger devices.
The Echo Dot
This version of The Echo Dot is a bit more sleek 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 it’s premium sound speaker.
That’s it! That’s all you need to set up your virtual assistant, Alexa, at your service.
All the devices can supplement memory support and do the memory boosting games discussed above. So, pick one based on your budget and feature preference. Personally, I really enjoy the Echo Show and find the visual reminders super helpful. I have an Echo show in my kitchen and a few other small Echo dots around the house (for timers, reminders, and music).
Overall, Alexa offers many affordable options that help you remember things!
If you're getting older and struggling with increased forgetfulness, click here to download the Beginner’s Guide to Strengthening Your Mind as You Age and I'll walk you step-by-step through overcoming those subtle memory changes and creating cognitive resilience so you can think clearly and stay sharp, without burning out on brain games.
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