Alexa Skill to Help Seniors Stay Connected

Although most older adults say they want to age-in-place for as long as possible, seniors who live alone can struggle to manage medications or keep up with daily tasks and many find they become socially isolated as friends and family move or pass away.  Technology offers a number of ways for family and caregivers to stay in touch with elderly loved-ones and soon Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa will be able to help create a “virtual circle of support” for seniors. 

According to a recent CNBC report, the insurance provider State Farm is working in collaboration with Amazon to create a new Alexa tool available for owners of the Echo Show device.  The app will offer family and caregivers a quick and easy way to check in on elderly adults and share alerts.   The Echo Show is a smart display device that is voice-controlled and allows users to control smart devices around the home, make video calls, watch TV shows or movies, check the weather or traffic, update calendars and much more.  The Echo Show 5 is currently priced at $64.99 (US) as part of Amazon’s Back to School Deals

Developers of the new Alexa app (which Amazon calls a skill) are also looking into ways to provide medication reminders and manage confidential medical information.  The hope is that seniors will use the technology to stay in closer touch with family and caregivers without the need for devices like panic buttons that make them feel old.   Seniors can retain their privacy by turning off video and sound with just the touch of a button. 

The service will be heading into trials in the next few months are is expected to launch officially in 2020.   It is possible that insurance may cover the cost of Echo devices as a tool to help older adults live independently longer and with a greater connection to family and friends.  Caregivers and loved-ones will find the app helps streamline communication and coordinate efforts to save time and frustration.  Having a single hub to help manage care for an aging loved one can be a valuable tool. 

As the older population continues to grow with the aging of the baby boomer generation and seniors live longer, many will find themselves living alone after the loss of a partner.  Nearly half of American women over 75 live alone; and most older adults choose to age-in-place unless and injury or illness precipitates a move into assisted living.  Finding solutions to remain at home with greater success and more social interaction is at the forefront of many new technological advances for seniors.  Stay tuned as we discover more! 

Learn more about State Farm’s Alexa skill by following this link to the State Farm Newsroom.