As kids growing up, the last thing on our minds was probably wondering how we’ll take care of our parents once we’re older. All we want to do is play and have fun, and kids can’t even imagine the stress and responsibility that comes with being a caregiver for aging loved ones. Heck, most adults can’t imagine the stress until they’re experiencing it firsthand. However, there may come a time when you have to step up and actively care for your parents, and Amazon has a new technology service designed to help — Alexa Together.
Let’s face it, some of us don’t have the luxury of being able to watch over our aging loved ones on a full-time basis. That’s one of the many reasons there’s so much value in the smart home. In particular, we’re talking about Alexa-enabled devices that can watch over relatives when you can’t be there in person.
Amazon announced the new Alexa Together service last December, and it’s a suite of smart tools designed to help families take care of their loved ones remotely. It’s all done with the help of various Amazon Alexa devices, like the lineup of Echo smart speakers and Echo Show smart displays, which can all work together to give you peace of mind that your loved ones are safe. There’s a lot that it can do, so we’ll be breaking down all that you need and how it works.
Since the service is still new, you’re in luck because Amazon’s offering six months of Alexa Together for free for a limited time. After that, you’ll need to subscribe to either its monthly or yearly plans — $19.99 per month or $199 annually (a savings of almost $41). You might think it’s costly, but when lives are at stake, and there’s a potential to save them, there’s tremendous value in the service. Other professional services for elderly care don’t have the tight integration and connectivity that Amazon provides with Alexa Together. In fact, at-home care can cost thousands per month.
The Alexa Gadgets You’ll Need
Alexa Together may be the service that runs in the background, but it’s the Alexa-enabled devices used at your loved one’s location that do the real work. From communicating with them instantly to doing a daily checkup at a specific time, many Alexa-compatible devices work effectively with the service. Here are some of the ones you should consider.
Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock
It’s the smallest Alexa-enabled smart speaker the company offers, but the Amazon Echo Dot’s compact size means it can fit in places and rooms you wouldn’t think. For example, it can be at your parents’ bedside, so they can ask Alexa to help them start their day. They can set routines to announce reminders, calendar events, and other messages before getting out of bed.
Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)
Alexa does a great job with her responses, but some people prefer visual cues to help them — especially when they’re hard of hearing. With its sizable 10-inch display on a rotating base, the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) can be used to show reminders about upcoming doctor’s appointments, taking medication, and so much more.
Amazon Echo (3rd Gen)
While it’s not meant to be one of those showcase pieces for the living room, Amazon’s flagship smart speaker can be used for emergencies. If your parents need immediate care, such as if they’ve fallen in the living room and can’t get up, they can ask Alexa to get help.
How Alexa Together Helps Watch Loved Ones
Once you’ve determined what Amazon Alexa supported devices would be most beneficial to your aging parents, you’ll need to know exactly what the service can do to help. As the caregiver to your aged family member, you’ll be using the Amazon Alexa app for mobile to interact with all of Alexa Together’s features. Here’s what we found most valuable about the service.
Access to immediate emergency services
The last thing you ever want to happen is for one of your parents to get hurt when you’re not there. In dire situations when they’re nowhere near a phone and can’t reach out for help, Alexa Together can instantly connect them with a 24/7 Urgent Response team by speaking the command.
Trained agents can then request emergency personnel to come out, whether the police, fire department or an ambulance. When timing matters, we can’t stress enough about the importance of instant help and response. Not to mention the peace of mind you’ll get knowing they are much safer than if they were on their own.
Knowing when your parents do or don’t interact with Alexa
One of the underrated features of Alexa Together that we find extremely valuable is providing caregivers the ability to know when their loved ones interact with their Alexa devices. You’ll know everything’s normal and okay when your parents ask Alexa to turn on the lights in the bedroom when they wake up at 8:00 a.m. since you know it’s one of their routines.
At the same time, too, you can receive alerts when they don’t interact with them. This could turn out to be critical information because any deviance from their regular routine could be a sign of a problem. If there have been no interactions with Alexa for a couple of hours, it’s a good opportunity for you as the caregiver to send a proper checkup.
Remote assistance, so loved ones are informed
Amazon’s smart displays are incredibly versatile, but they play a valuable part in your parents’ lives with remote assistance. Whether it’s the spacious-sized Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) or the mid-range Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen), caregivers can send reminders to those smart displays for loved ones to see.
It’s beneficial if your parents are required to take various medications at different times of the day. Their memory may not be as sharp as it used to be, so these reminders see up through the Alexa app can then be shown on those smart displays with them.
I’ve fallen and can’t get up
We’ve heard that phrase somewhere before, but we can’t imagine the feeling of being helpless after a sudden fall. Older loved ones are far more susceptible to being badly hurt from falls, so it’s imperative to get help quickly. But what happens when there’s no one around?
Alexa Together wants to ensure they receive proper help with its fall detection response feature, which works with compatible fall detection devices that your parents wear. The SkyAngelCare, for example, is a wearable pendant that detects when someone falls — which Alexa would then ask if assistance is needed.
Another option is the Vayyar Care, a wall-mounted sensor that detects when someone falls and automatically initiates Alexa for assistance. The only downside is that if the fall occurs outside the room where it’s placed, there’s no way for it to detect falls. Despite this, some may prefer getting multiple units to cover as many rooms as possible.
Keeping Families Connected
Alexa Together is a perfect example of the evolving smart home. It’s growing as we’re growing, getting us through all parts of life. With elderly family members who live far away, Alexa Together helps keep families connected — even when they’re apart. Today’s working families have even more challenges to deal with, like taking care of their own children.
Debilitating injuries or health problems make things even more problematic, which can and will affect your routines. Take, for example, someone who suffered a stroke, and even after going through intense rehabilitation, they are still unable to return to their level of independence. In this situation, Alexa Together can help keep caregivers’ eyes on their loved ones when they have to be at work — or simply live far away. That distance is bridged with the help of Alexa Together.