Assistive technology can make a huge difference in the life of your elder.
Last year, I told the story of getting Mom to agree to have an Echo Dot in her home. Along with having multiple conversations over time – the drip method – her motivation for going from no to yes was a free trial period with the ability to keep it.
Boy how things have changed. She now has three in her home, each making life easier and serving a purpose that is important to her. Each of the four lamps in her living room have a smart plug that allows her to turn lights on and off by voice command. It has given her a sense of independence that had slowly eroded over the years as her mobility and health declined. Four may seem excessive, but her eyesight deteriorated even more after this summer’s eye infection. She needs rooms “lit up like Giants Stadium” as my dad used to say.
The one in her bedroom also turns on lights, but she uses it along with her headphones to listen to music or the news on the nights she finds it difficult to sleep. Again, the eye infection makes it harder to see even the large face on her wristwatch, so asking Alexa the time or the weather eases that frustration. In fact, midway through the pandemic, her books on tape, which she listens to in bed, were unavailable. For several months, a subscription to Kindle Unlimited solved that problem for us.
The latest installation is the one in the kitchen. Setting a timer is hit or miss since mom cannot see the numbers clearly. Now, Alexa serves as a timer, not just for cooking but also for medication reminders. Mom has three eye drops that must go in her bad eye but spaced five minutes apart. Being able to say ”Alexa, set timer for five minutes” keeps us on target. Again, due to the eye infection, her writing has gotten worse and now we have an ongoing grocery list on Alexa that mom adds to no matter what room she is in.
I love that Mom is using Alexa for so much more than I envisioned for her. I love that she is excited when she finds a new use for it, like the time she called to say she was listening to all the music from when she and dad dated and it was bringing back such wonderful memories.
I wish her eyesight was good enough for us to take advantage of Amazon’s Echo Show. It would allow us to have video calls together among other things.
What isn’t as much fun is the weekly call that Alexa is not working like it used to and I have to troubleshoot it from home with my app. Last week she called to say her news was playing in the kitchen, not through her headphones in the living room. Apparently, she accidently muted the headphones when she picked them up to plug the headphones back in. Once her caregiver unmuted it, she was good to go but it was not a quick conversation.
I never expected my mother to take to assistive technology like she has and to discover on her own uses that help her which I never envisioned. The lesson in this for me and I hope you, is that our elders can change and adapt to technology when they find a reason to use it and especially when it makes their life easier or helps to keep them engaged. Click To Tweet
In case you missed it, here are three articles to help you think through the various technology options that can help your loved one and you.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call