Longevity Network
  • Aug 18, 2017
  • Maya Lindsey, CIO

Q: Can smart speakers (Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) be used in Alzheimer’s care?

Smart speakers can’t replace human care and companionship, but they can be a helpful tool for an individual with dementia, and give caregivers some needed respite.

They can be programmed to provide daily reminders and alarms to take medication, check in with caregivers, eat a meal, etc. The Amazon Echo can integrate with Google Calendar to remind patients about appointments like doctor visits or even family visits, i.e. “Anne is coming by at 1pm today, she’s your oldest granddaughter and she just started a new job teaching high school.”

Smart speakers can alleviate anxiety in other ways. They never get frustrated with having to answer repeated questions, and they can play music or read a book at a moment’s noise. Social isolation can seriously impact mental health, and smart speakers can call or send messages to friends or family members without the individual having to press any buttons.

Safety is, of course, always a concern for dementia patients, and smart speakers are rapidly developing new ways to keep older adults safe. For example, Alexa has a programmed skill called “Ask My Buddy” which can be set up to automatically alert an individual or a list of contacts that help is needed. Users can say, “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help,” or “Alexa, ask my buddy to alert Laura.” The programmed contacts then get a call, a text, and an email.

There are numerous products available now to detect falls and wandering, alert caregivers to changes in behavior, help adults with mobility issues find transportation, connect family members and caregivers, etc. There are so many opportunities for this technology to integrate and become even more user-friendly, and for this technology to be used in new ways to keep older adults with dementia safe and comfortable.