Alexa For Seniors Review 2020

Technology is moving so fast that it can be hard to keep up, more so for the elderly folks among us. But one area where its advance is highly anticipated for its mutual benefits is the area of intelligent voice assistants (IVA). The biggest and best known IVA right now is Amazon’s Alexa, which is very easy for Seniors to use.

You have probably watched a Sci-fi movie where such digital assistants are used in homes, spacecraft navigation, vehicles, and personal devices. Alexa may not be nearly as advanced as that, but it’s a huge start and can be very useful around the home, and especially so for seniors.

 

Alexa for seniors is a brilliant way to use the Alexa voice assistant with simple tasks such as reminders, controlling smart devices at home, communicating, and even just helping them to have fun. This is all made possible by advances in Natural Language Processing.

Is Alexa Good For The Seniors and the Elderly?

This is one question that gets asked a lot. Many people fear that it will just make the life of seniors more complicated. Others are worried about privacy, and others simply want to know if it works.

The truth is, Alexa has been around for more than 5 years at the time of writing. It has grown in huge leaps and bounds, especially in voice command recognition. One of the areas that has seen exponential growth is the specific focus area of Alexa for senior citizens.

According to the 2010 US Census report, we can expect that the elderly demographic (made up of people 65 years or older) will make up at least a fifth of the population. A lot of attention is being paid when care for the elderly is on the table.

Thus, Alexa is an excellent tool that can be used to make sure that the elderly are comfortable and well taken care of. It will not and is not meant to act as a substitute for human caregivers, but as a tool, almost every senior loves it!

What are the Best Alexa Devices for Seniors?

Amazon initially introduced Alexa in 2014 in its Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices. It quickly became very popular. In so doing, it forced a lot of manufacturers to make their products Alexa compatible to avoid becoming obsolete. Even Google’s Nest Hub is compatible with Alexa to encourage mutual growth.

This means that you can buy devices from the market that do all sorts of amazing things. You can then set them up and control them using voice commands, and make your life or that of an elderly loved one that much easier.

Here are some of the best among them.

  1. Amazon Echo and Echo Dot.
  2. Amazon Smart Plug.
  3. Philips Hue Bulb Kit
  4. Ecobee Smart Thermostat
  5. Insignia Fire 43” TV

Best Devices with Alexa in 2019

These are the five best devices with Alexa as of December 2019.

1.   Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Amazon Show

As Alexa pioneers, the Amazon Echo and its smaller Echo Dot cousin are the best Alexa devices by default. The two can be lumped together in this case because they’re functionally similar: They’re both smart portable speakers with multi-directional microphones to listen for voice commands.

When you’re just looking to enter into the world of Alexa, the Echo Dot is more than enough.  It comes with the full voice command functionality offered by Alexa at half the price of the Echo.

One major feature you will love is the LED display on the Dot. It primarily shows the time, temperature upon request, and a stop clock countdown when needed.

Other than that, the Echo Dot with clock is a small highly functional device that is an excellent addition to your home. It is small, about the shape of a hockey puck and 3.9in across. It has a fabric material cover that comes in different colors and will fit seamlessly into your home décor.

The bigger Echo is bigger, about the size and shape of a cylindrical vase. It comes with bigger and louder omnidirectional speakers. There is a noticeable difference in its sound in a large room, which makes it preferable if your main concern is listening to music or radio.

Both of these are designed to be as non-intrusive in the home as possible. However, if you prefer a display screen, you can get an Amazon Echo Show device. There are several generations of these already on the market with different screen sizes, display quality, and prices.

The Amazon Echo Show allows you to take greater advantage of devices such as security cameras. It also comes with great speakers, powered by artificially amped Dolby sound processors.

You can have multiple Amazon Echo devices in your home to make sure that you make the best use of them. For example, the Amazon Dot is best for the bedside due to its small size, time display and advanced security features which include a physical shutter for the camera.

The Amazon Echo is best for the kitchen, where it can help with reminders, countdowns, recipes, and music. There are certain advantages to using the Echo devices over the rest of the competition.

Pros

  • They offer seamless integration with Alexa and other Alexa-compatible devices.
  • They are the only devices to allow you to order deliveries straight from Amazon through an Amazon Prime subscription package.
  • They all have great sound quality, especially the Echo and the Echo Show.
  • More security options are available, such as physical camera shutters and the option to delete your voice transcripts every day.
  • They will get lifetime support from Amazon in terms of software updates.

Cons

  • There were some privacy concerns, but Amazon has since addressed most of them by giving you control over Alexa’s listening and recording ability.

At the end of the day, these are the pioneers of Alexa and will always have superior capabilities. If you’re looking to dip your feet into this amazing new world, they should be your first choice. You can buy the latest models of the  Amazon Echo, the Echo Dot, and the Echo Show 8 straight from the manufacturer.

2.   Amazon Smart Plug

The Amazon Smart Plug is an ingenious solution to make your home smart without having to replace any appliances. It works just like a conventional power plug, only that it comes with Alexa which makes it intelligent. That way, you can control any device connected via the Smart plug using voice commands or through the Alexa app.

In a home with an elderly loved one, this feature is invaluable. It gives you great peace of mind because you can make sure that everything is okay from anywhere in the world.For instance, you can turn the TV off, turn lights on, make sure the heater is on, among others. That way, you can lend an invisible ‘guardian angel’ element to those you care about.

One amazing feature about the Amazon Smart Plug is its ease of use. All you need to do is connect it to the appliance and the power source, add it to your Alexa app, and you’re set. You can have as many plugs as you want!

While the Smart Plug comes with Alexa integration, it doesn’t have a microphone. You will need to have the Alexa app installed on your phone, or have an Alexa device in your home. That way, you will be able to communicate with it through the network.

It can also work over most home WiFi networks, although 2.4 GHz is the best. It is also the most common, so you won’t have to make any changes to your existing framework. It doesn’t cause a noticeable lag to the speed of your home network.

Overall, the newest version of the Amazon Smart plug is an ingenious way to make your home smart and responsive. You can see that it is very popular, with over 30,000 ratings on Amazon and 4.1 stars.

Pros

  • The Smart Plug is a relatively cheaper way to make your home smart, instead of buying new and expensive Alexa devices.
  • It does not require you to have a hub, or corresponding Alexa device if you have the app installed on your phone.
  • It works seamlessly with your Wi-Fi, electrical system, and other Alexa devices in your home.
  • It allows remote control of the devices you use it with. For example, you can make sure that the heater is turned on or off from thousands of miles away using the Alexa app.
  • It is simple and intuitive to use. Just plug it in and go.

Cons

  • It is quite large and blocky.
  • It is more expensive than other smart plugs in the market.

The Amazon Smart Plug is the best Alexa for the senior citizens when your budget is low. While it is quite limited in functionality, it will give you great flexibility and peace of mind as a caregiver or relative. You can get it here from Amazon.

3.    Philips Hue LED Bulbs Starter Kit

Smart connected lighting is probably one of the most obvious applications for your home. For an elderly person, it can be annoying having to reach for sockets every time you get into or leave a room. The Philips Hue range of smart bulb kits allows you to do away with all that.

To begin with, you can purchase different lighting fixtures depending on where you wish to place them. This includes outdoor security lights, living room lights, old school ‘filament’ lights, and much more. This allows you to customize your home lighting scheme exactly as you desire.

There are different options available to you depending on your budget. However, the simplest and cheapest package consists of a connected Philips White Hue bulb and a Philips Bridge.

The Bridge serves as the interface between your bulbs and your WiFi network. That way, you can interact with your Philips Hue through connected Alexa devices or the Alexa app on your phone.

You can also connect up to 50 different bulbs, LightStrips, Switches, motion sensor switches, and other different Philips Hue devices. The Bridge serves as the connecting device for all of them.

The White Hue bulbs are the most basic version. You can control their on/off functionality, timing, and scheduling through Alexa but not much else. They do not change color, neither can you adjust the color temperature which remains at 2700K. However, you can dim them as you please. The maximum brightness available is a constant 800 lumens, and the bulbs can last for 15000 hours (or about 7 years.)

You can also opt for the more sophisticated Color Ambiance bulbs, but they are more expensive. With these, you have a choice of 16 million colors and color temperatures. If you have a specific lighting theme in mind, these will deliver beyond your wildest expectations.

All Philips Hue lighting fixtures are available to suit a variety of fittings. These include the A19, E12, E26, or even the screw and bayonet fixtures for the UK markets, among others.

The Philips Hue range is far wider, though. You can also opt for the LED LightStrips, add the physical ‘remote control’ Philips Switch, purchase motion sensors for different rooms, among other options. It all starts with a basic kit, to which you can add more devices as you require them.

Pros

  • It is the most complete connected home lighting kit available, with a full range of devices.
  • Control is easy and intuitive, with Alexa voice commands, physical switches, or even motion sensor control options.
  • They are the most reliable, with constant software updates support from the manufacturer.
  • Once you have the starter kit with a Philips Bridge, it becomes comparatively cheaper to extend the network.
  • Long expected service life due to their quality build.

Cons

  • The pricing is very steep for the starter kit and individual bulbs. There are much cheaper generic options, though not as good.
  • You need the bridge for full functionality.

The Philips Hue connected bulbs are the most hi-tech connected lighting fixtures currently. While expensive, you will love their versatility and reliability. Plus, with seamless Alexa integration, you can be sure of hands-free control at home or when you’re far away.

You can order the most recent Philips Hue White basic starter kit with 3 bulbs here on Amazon.

4.   Ecobee Smart Thermostat

The Ecobee thermostat has been around for a while now and gained a lot of followers. After Ecobee 4, the manufacturer decided to just stick with the name Ecobee Smart Thermostat albeit with a lot of improvements.

For starters, the Ecobee Smart is an intelligent and interactive control device for your home AC and heater. It has a processor, touchscreen, speakers, microphones, and sensors. The newest Smart Thermostat, in particular, has a 4-core CPU, making it just like a smartphone that you use for your home cooling and heating systems.

However, it is so much more than just a smart thermostat. It works with other Alexa devices in your home so that you can issue other voice commands such as ‘Alexa, read me the news’ or ‘Alexa, what is the weather outside’. You can play music, set timers, and reminders, or ask questions and Alexa will answer.

When you first get the Ecobee Smart Thermostat, it takes you about 30 minutes to completely set up. This includes mounting the wall plate, connecting all the wires, and syncing it with your phone and other devices in the home.

You can then set your preferences, such as whether you want to keep Alexa active and listening, the temperature you want to maintain, and the devices you want to connect to. You will also need to answer some questions about what type of home you’re living in, the number of rooms, the number of occupants, etc.

Once it is set up, you will find the Ecobee Smart Thermostat a joy to have in your home. It will maintain the temperature you want, accept voice commands, and help you save up to 23% in energy and maintenance costs.

It also supports a technology called Echo-Spatial Perception or ESP, which means that it works with other Alexa devices so that when you issue commands, only the device nearest to you will answer.

You can purchase an additional temperature and motion sensor to work hand-in-hand with the Ecobee. That way, it can tell if there is someone at home or in the room to help customize preferences. It also connects to your WiFi network, so that you can control it from the Alexa app when away from home.

Pros

  • It connects with up to 32 sensors in the home to give fully automated, feedback-controlled temperature adjustments.
  • It has inbuilt Alexa with all its bells and whistles.
  • It has a C-wire installation kit and How-To manual, in case your home doesn’t have it.
  • It will generate detailed reports of energy usage and savings upon request.
  • Excellent build quality, and intuitive software.

Cons

  • The motion sensors can sometimes be fooled when you’re not moving around, such as when you’re asleep or watching TV.
  • It lacks a battery pack.
  • Without a C-wire in your home, installation can be long and complicated for some people.

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat is the premier device of its kind and is one of the most popular Alexa device additions to homes with elderly occupants. That is because of its intelligent functioning, requiring only minimal input from the user. It is also super simple and intuitive to use with voice command options, motion sensors, or remote Alexa app control.

While it is quite expensive, you are bound to appreciate its worth in your home. You can order the latest model here from Amazon.

5.   Insignia 4K Fire TV

Seniors will usually have many hours to kill, so a good entertainment system is imperative. A TV invariably fulfills this need, especially a quality, full-featured, 4K TV with Alexa fully integrated. It lets you take full control over your entertainment without ever having to leave your seat.

The Insignia 4K TV with Amazon Fire is the best option for the elderly because it is cost-effective, and comes with most of the major features you might need.

Firstly, it features an ultra-HD 4K display. That means that you get crystal clear images with wide viewing angles and little or no distortion. Even with demanding movies, TV or gaming operations, the Insignia delivers surprisingly well.

It also comes with very good speakers. While they’re not excellent in the sense that an audiophile would expect, you won’t have to connect it to a soundbar to watch movies.

However, it does not have far-field microphones. That means that you have to use the one on the remote control to issue voice commands to Alexa. That is not a deal-breaker in itself, and the remote already has many preset buttons for common commands such as Netflix, Hulu, live TV, among others.

 

Physically, the Insignia Fire TV is not very appealing. It has thick bezels and is not as slim as many would like. Still, it is very light and easy to set up even for one person.

The inbuilt Alexa integration allows the TV to interact with other similar devices such as the Amazon Echo. It also lets you interact seamlessly with the Amazon Fire streaming service to watch movies, stream videos and music, read e-books, among others.

Pros

  • It is very affordable, compared to other models of the same category.
  • It gives you excellent video quality with 4K ultra-HD display and wide viewing angles.
  • It is fully integrated with Alexa, letting you use voice commands for the TV and other devices at home.
  • It is very light and easy to set up even for a single person.
  • Simple and intuitive user experience.

Cons

  • You can experience lags in command execution, especially when updates are in progress.
  • Alexa does not work with live or cable TV commands.

Seniors prefer simplicity over many functions that would take ages to muster. This is why the Insignia Fire TV from Best Buy is the best Alexa TV for seniors. It offers a surprisingly rich viewing experience while keeping things simple and intuitive.

With its very attractive price tag, it is a must-have for elderly users. You can order it right here from Amazon.

Top 10 Ways To Use Alexa for Seniors

Having an Alexa device is one step closer to a worry-free life, but how do you make full use of it? For the uninitiated, the smart ‘perky’ assistant from Amazon’s Lab126 can be intimidating at first. Once you get the hang of it, however, it is incredibly easy and intuitive to use.

By default, Alexa is always listening. When issuing a command, just start it with ‘Alexa, … ’. That way, it can tell when it is being addressed. The name was chosen because the letter X has a sharp inflection that makes it easy to identify. However, you can customize it.

Apart from that, you’re pretty much free to ask anything. It is very smart, which means that you do don’t have to keep to specific command formats.

Alexa has hundreds of thousands of features or applications, called skills. Anyone can add a skill designed to do something specific through its Skill Blueprints. Skills can be added to your Alexa profile through the corresponding app.

Here are some of the best and most useful Alexa skills for seniors.

1.     Listen to Music and Radio

In order to listen to music through Alexa, you will first need to add your favorite music streaming service. It comes with a subscription to Amazon music by default, but you can use the Alexa app to add more.

Once you do that, just say, ‘Alexa, play the Blues’ or whichever genre you wish. You can also pair your mobile device via Bluetooth by saying ‘Alexa, Bluetooth.’

For radio, just say ‘Alexa, which radio stations do you have?’ and select one.

2.     Get news and Weather Updates

Alexa is great at keeping you updated on the weather, the latest news, sports events, and more. All you need to do is ask. You can imagine that you were asking Google and frame the question similarly.

For instance, you could say ‘Alexa, give me the latest BBC news updates.’ Or, you can ask, ‘What is the latest tennis news?’ The same works for the weather, but you can be a bit more specific like ‘Alexa, what will the weather in <name a city> be at <name a time>?’

For more in-depth weather reports, add the Big Sky skill through the app.

3.     Set Reminders, Timers, Alarms and More

You can request Alexa to remind you about something at specific times. For example, you could say ‘Alexa, remind me to take my medication every day at 5’ or ‘Alexa, remind me to start supper at six.’

You can also set alarms in the same way, start timers, create lists, and more. They all work the same way they do on your phone, with the exception that you can use voice commands instead.

4.     Secure Your Home

Alexa works with security devices such as the Ring Doorbell camera, the Wansview Q5, Nest Indoor cameras, Zmodo Sight 180, and many more. They work especially well with the Echo Show devices due to their touchscreen display, and you can keep watch on your home even when away.

5.     Control Lights, AC, and Other Fixtures at Home

Alexa gives you hands-free control over the electronics in your home. With connected lights such as the Philips Hue, you can issue voice commands to customize lighting, turn various appliances on or off, among many other functions.

Alexa also lets you control compatible devices from far away through the accompanying app. That way, you can have peace of mind even when traveling.

6.     Call Your Phone Contacts or 911

It is crucial for seniors to get help when they need it. Alexa allows you to issue voice commands such as ‘Alexa, call John’ or ‘Alexa, call 911’ so long as you have an Alexa device in range.

To activate this feature, you need to install a skill such as Mastermind on your Alexa app.

7.     Solve Math Problems

Alexa is pretty good at solving math equations, and this ability is only limited by your imagination. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and more, are all a piece of cake for Alexa. There have even been reports of resourceful kids using it for their homework.

To use Alexa for solving math problems, you just need to frame your question simply and logically. To use this feature, you just need to enable a skill like Smart Math. You can also use it to sharpen your Math skills or play math games to keep your mind active.

8.     Listen to Audio Books

You can also use Alexa to listen to any Audible audiobook of your choice. Amazon Echo owners get one free audiobook to keep, but after that, you will need an Audible subscription to continue using the service.

To prompt Alexa to read you a book, just say ‘Alexa, read me <mention the title and author>.’ You can also navigate as the reading continues using commands like ‘Alexa, go to the next chapter’ or ‘Alexa, slow down.’

9.     Find Your Phone

Seniors aren’t known for the best memory. If you or someone else whose phone is integrated with Alexa can’t find it, simply say ‘Alexa, find my phone.’ It will then prompt the phone to start ringing so that you can find it.

10.   Set Up an Intercom System

When you have several Alexa devices in your home, you can use them as a sort of crude intercom system instead of shouting all over the house. For example, once you have a device in each room name accordingly, you could say ‘Alexa, drop in on the porch.’ You then wait until the light turns green and then speak to whoever is there. When done, simply say ‘Alexa, hang up.’

If you want to announce something through all Alexa devices, just say, ‘Alexa, announce ‘Supper is ready’.’

There are many more skills for Alexa for seniors, and more are added every day. You can even ask ‘Alexa, what are your top skills?’ Otherwise, you can visit the main skills page here and find out many more fun options.

Conclusion

Alexa for the elderly is a marvelous application of current technology trends. The best Alexa for seniors involves skills that help them with daily tasks such as reminders to take medication or to check in with relatives. It also allows for home automation to make the lives of the elderly much easier.

Is Alexa a novelty, a passing cloud? The answer to that question is a firm no. Rather than a passing cloud, Alexa represents the next phase of the ‘Internet of Things’, where everything is automated, connected, and intuitive. For the elderly, it will only get better with more and alexa for seniors add more skills targeted for their comfort and safety.

Sources

  1. https://www.amazon.com/alexa-skills/b?ie=UTF8&node=13727921011 All Alexa Skills.
  2. https://www.cnet.com/news/the-top-10-amazon-alexa-devices-for-2019-echo-dot-ring-arlo-flex/ Cnet, Top 10 Amazon Alexa devices.
  3. https://alarm-reviews.net/ecobee3-reviews/ Ecobee Smart Home Thermostat Review
  4. https://www.cnet.com/reviews/philips-hue-white-led-starter-kit-review/ Cnet Philips Hue Starter Kit Review
  5. https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/22/20925364/amazon-echo-dot-clock-review-third-generation-specs-features-price Amazon Echo Dot With Clock Review
  6. https://thehelpinghome.com/alexa-for-seniors-21-extremely-practical-ways-older-adults-can-use-amazon-echo/ Alexa for Seniors: 21 Extremely Practical Ways Older Adults Can Use Amazon Echo Devices

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