Published on April 9th, 2019
About 10,000 baby boomers will reach retirement age each day until 2029. As Boomers age into the largest mass retirement we’ve ever seen in the U.S., we need the best tools available to care for an aging population. Emerging voice technology, like Amazon Alexa, has almost no learning curve and is easily accessible to those with disabilities.
There is great potential for keeping track of health information, answering queries, and assisting in fine motor control tasks.
Set Reminders To Take Prescriptions
Medication management can be difficult for people of all ages, but compliance helps us feel better and remain healthier for the long term. Even those who live independently may have trouble taking daily medicine on a schedule exactly as directed. Alexa is good at making sure these types of tasks don’t get lost in the chaos of a normal day.
You can set up reminders to take daily medicine, or to fill a prescription on a certain day by saying, “Alexa, remind me to take my medicine every day at 8:00 a.m.”
Alexa will play a short sound followed by a voice prompt, “Reminder, it’s time to take your medicine.” She’ll repeat it once more but won’t require you to interact. You’ll also receive a banner notification if you installed the Alexa app on your phone.
Customize the reminder by entering the name of a specific medication or any short phrase.
Call For Help Without Reaching A Phone
It seems like everyone has a story with an elderly loved one who fell and couldn’t reach the phone. Alexa cannot call emergency services but can call a person in your contact list. You can allow access to your contacts during app setup, or you can manually add contacts by clicking on the Menu icon > Contacts.
You can call a contact from Alexa on speaker by saying, “Alexa, call John Smith’s mobile phone.” After confirming the contact you wish to call, Alexa places the call, and you can communicate over the speaker.
The contacts include a nickname field if you want to shorten the invocation to fewer words.
Check Side Effects Or Interactions On Medications
Ask Alexa about the possible side effects of a drug, drug interactions, or details about a health condition using the WebMD Alexa skill. The responses are physician-reviewed, so you can be confident that information about symptoms and treatments is accurate and reliable.
Ask about definitions of medical terms and tests by saying, “Alexa, ask WebMD what is the test for Lyme disease?” Even family members who have trouble using a computer or typing can get the answers they need quickly and easily.
Find A Nearby Urgent Care
For geriatric family members still living independently, Alexa can be a huge help in finding the closest pharmacy, urgent care facility, or emergency room. During set up, you provide a physical address for the Echo device, which is used for queries. If you need urgent medical care, you can ask, “Alexa, what is the closest urgent care facility?” She’ll respond with the name, location, and how far it is from you.
If you have specific insurance coverage, see what Alexa apps are available. Many large insurers provide coverage information and can even report wait time at local hospitals or list in-network providers for specialties like geriatrics.
As the population ages, we need to provide tools to help seniors age in place. Alexa is simple for people to use without training, and makes the information on the internet easily available to those who struggle to deal with technology. Set up an Alexa device to access health care information quickly and without barriers.