Technology is often associated with youth, but smart devices are increasingly being designed to address the needs of older adults. From wearables with fall detection capabilities to security systems that provide a sense of safety for older adults and caregivers alike, smart devices make it easier for seniors to live with greater independence and more fully connect with their communities.
According to AARP, the convenience and peace of mind that smart devices provide are rapidly winning over older adults – who now use technology like smartphones at almost the same rate as their younger counterparts.
Some of the most popular functions of smart technology for older adults include:
- Security systems, which monitor for intruders, can be integrated with other smart sensors to turn on lights when someone enters a room (reducing tripping hazards), lock the front door when they get into bed and alert a caregiver when they get up.
- Smart assistants provide important reminders, answer questions and make calls. Voice activation is especially beneficial for older adults who may struggle to see buttons on their phone or navigate a complicated interface.
- Monitoring health is especially helpful for older adults living with chronic illness. From tracking steps and sleep to detecting falls and monitoring blood sugar, smart wearables offer a host of benefits. The popularity of these devices for people of all ages also means there are more stylish and less obtrusive options to choose from.
The benefits of Alexa for seniors
Because it utilizes voice-activated technology, Alexa-enabled devices stand out as one of the best smart home devices for seniors as there are no complicated interfaces to navigate, and its use isn’t dependent on fine motor skills, eyesight or mobility.
Alexa offers more than 100,000 skills. While that number may be a little intimidating, there are a handful of skills that are most popular and functional for older adults.
- “Routines” allows users to set timers for lights, wake-up calls and more.
- “Ask My Buddy” lets you set up emergency contacts and contact emergency services.
- “My Calendar” reminds you of upcoming birthdays, appointments and other scheduled events.
- “Alexa Drop In” is an optional feature that permits people to instantly connect between rooms with their supported Alexa-enabled devices. Just say, “Alexa, drop in,” to get started.
In addition to the skills above, Alexa-enabled devices can also:
- Play the radio or an audiobook
- Provide the weather forecast
- Save a shopping list
- Read a recipe
- Give the date and time
Ginna Baik, Senior Care Lead for Alexa Smart Properties, says these new innovations are already transforming the experience of aging because the intuitive nature of voice helps older adults quickly adopt the technology.
Amazon and Atria collaboration
While most older adults are interested in smart home devices for the convenience and safety they provide, many are still intimidated by what can be a difficult or confusing initial setup process. Securing a reliable internet connection, integrating devices and managing multiple subscriptions can all deter older adults from using smart devices.
At a growing number of Atria communities, however, residents don’t have to worry about any of the setup. Through a collaboration with Amazon’s Alexa Smart Properties team, Atria has enabled Alexa devices, including the Echo Show, to support both residents and the staff who serve them. This makes Atria among the first in the senior living industry to deploy large-scale Alexa Smart Properties nationwide.
Chris Nall, Atria’s Chief Technology Officer, describes the Atria experience as a combination of hospitality, health care, well-being and social connection – a tall order that requires thoughtful organization and constant innovation. “Technology,” he says, “is the glue that holds it all together.”
That innovation was the driving force behind the collaboration with Amazon. Apartments equipped with Alexa-enabled devices make it easier for residents to do simple tasks, increasing their independence while allowing staff to focus on providing higher-level services and personal attention.
Alexa helps to create a seamless senior living experience
From calling the concierge to playing a favorite song, Atria residents can more fully engage with their communities through Alexa’s voice enabled technology.
With Alexa-enabled devices, residents can use their voice to:
- Alert staff of a maintenance need
- Call the front desk
- Gather information about upcoming meals and events
- Get answers to common questions
“I tell my friends, ‘Alexa is not intimidating!’” says an Atria resident who’s grown accustomed to talking to the Alexa-enabled devices. “It’s so simple.”
Alexa helps to keep Atria residents engaged
With easy access to a robust calendar of events, residents are empowered to take full advantage of the many programs their Atria community offers.
Since installing the new devices, Alexa-supported communities have seen a 50-75% increase in participation in Atria’s Engage Life events. Nall says that means “More residents getting out of their apartments – while keeping them connected to their families through voice and video calls. And we’ve made it easy. All they have to do is ask Alexa.”
Visit a community near you to learn more about Atria’s approach to senior living.
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