Back in the late 1980s there was a home help ‘revolution’ with the advent of Clappers – a little gizmo that enabled you to turn the lights on and off simply by clapping. While that may have seemed futuristic at the time, what we have at our fingertips now would have seemed like tech from a different planet entirely.
The big tech giants are currently all vying to help automate our homes through their technology. Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Nest are two of the key examples, which allow voice commands to take the place of fiddly switches and keyboards. This is one of the reasons that they can be so useful for those living with dementia. Everything from controlling the heating (if you have smart appliances installed) to finding out what the weather will do tomorrow is simply a sentence away. The devices can also be used as reminding tools (time to take your pill!) or to alert the user to dangers around the home.
Amazon’s Echo can also tell stories and riddles, or play music and audio books, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to show that it can go some way towards providing company for the elderly person – something much to be wished for in these pandemic times.
It’s worth pointing out that the elderly person will need wifi in their house for these gadgets to work, and also that they will need to give their consent to them being installed. You also need to assess whether your loved one will remember to use the ‘wake up’ commands (‘Hey Google’, or ‘Alexa’), though these can be written down and left in strategic places as reminders.
The Alexa Show has a great large screen which makes it easy to see and navigate, something that can be very useful for older members of the family. It’s currently retailing at £89.99 on Amazon and would be a great investment if you are looking for new ways to keep in touch with relatives that you can’t see at the moment. You don’t need another one to have in your house; the Show can connect with all UK mobiles and landlines, as well as other Alexa-enabled devices. With the ‘drop in’ feature, which can be turned on or off, you can just pop up to chat briefly or say hi – handy if the relative is unable to answer fiddly phone calls or struggles to remember how to connect.