The benefit of virtual home assistants for people living alone

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Smart speaker devices, such as the Amazon Echo, have risen in popularity recently, but they’re not just for the tech-savvy youngsters to play music on, they can double up as helpful home assistants and they have features included that can come in incredibly handy for an older person who might be living alone.

We had a further look into the Amazon Echo and how it can help you or an elderly loved-one at home:

It can answer all your questions

Whatever question you or an elderly loved-one has, a virtual assistant can answer for you – such as what is the day/time/month/year? This is a particularly handy feature for anyone with memory loss or in the early stages of dementia.

You can also ask it for news and sports updates, ask it what the weather is like in a certain location or ask it a general knowledge question.

It can create lists

Daily to-do lists or shopping lists can be created on a virtual home assistant. If you’ve run out of milk, simply instruct your device to ‘add milk to the shopping list’, and when you need to hear the entire list, just ask it to read it out to you. Again, very helpful for anyone who often forgets things.

Command it to play music

A virtual assistant can be instructed to play music from any decade as well as playing radio or audiobooks. If you or an elderly loved-one has a favourite genre of music or there’s a particular decade you’d like to hear music from, just instruct your device to play it – this is really useful for people with dementia as music can help stimulate memories.

Communicate via multiple devices

If your elderly loved-one has a device, you can communicate with it through your own device, just record a quick message and send it to him/her. They’ll be notified that there’s a message waiting via a light and they can listen and send one back. It’s a great, effective way of communicating if you just want to say a quick ‘hello’ or check up on your loved-one.

You can set reminders

Many virtual assistants allow you to set reminders, which means an older person living alone can be reminded of any appointments they have to go to, when they’re favourite television program is on and they can even be reminded to take their medication at a certain time of day. You can set as many reminders as you need.

Set up personal alerts

In the set-up process you are able to designate contacts to alert if you need help. If your elderly loved-one needs you urgently and can’t get to a phone, they can instruct the Echo to alert you via text or call through the device. Of course, this is not a substitute for dialling 999 during an emergency.

A virtual home assistant might seem scary to technophobes and might take some getting used to, but we believe they can be extremely beneficial to an older person who is living on their own. Thanks to the various communication features, they also give peace of mind to family members.

Also, used in conjunction with other home smart devices, a virtual assistant can do things such as turn on lights and thermostats, which is particularly helpful to people who are less mobile.

As technology improves even further, we think most households will rely on a virtual assistant in the very near future.