NOW READING: “Alexa, How Are Voice Assistants Used in Senior Living Communities?”

Smart devices have made their way into millions of homes around the world. In fact, by 2023, it’s expected that more than half of American households and one-sixth of those around the world will have smart devices. People are becoming more and more tech savvy, quickly learning and expanding the use of smart devices as they continue to drive simplicity in our lives. They wake us up in the morning, brew our coffee, tell us the weather for the day and ultimately follow us wherever we go: in our pockets, cars, homes … everywhere.

These new technologies are often associated with younger adults and millennials. But another generation has been learning and embracing AI and voice recognition technologies too: seniors. In fact, McKnight’s Senior Living listed smart technology as one of the top 10 senior living design trends for 2020.

It’s a trend that has certainly been accelerated by COVID-19. The ban on in-person visits at most senior living communities has driven rapid adoption of video and calling capabilities to combat resident loneliness and isolation. Now we’re seeing interest in a range of other technologies, both built into the infrastructure of a resident’s room or worn as a wearable.

One of the major smart technologies we have seen popping up is Amazon’s Echo, which uses the AI-powered voice recognition system ‘Alexa’ to provide answers and assist in completing everyday tasks. Many seniors are bringing these devices into communities themselves, so they’re already familiar with how these AI-powered systems work. Things like checking the weather, setting reminders or listening to music become easier —all done through a simple voice command. It’s that simplicity that is causing senior living communities to consider how they might use voice-activated technology for other resident health and safety needs.

So how can voice-activated technology support resident safety? One example is using Alexa to alert caregivers that a resident needs help. It’s not uncommon for a resident to fall or injure themselves and be unable to reach a traditional wall mounted call station.  These emergencies tend to happen when a resident is alone in their room, and they may well not even be wearing a PERS pendant. In other words, they have no way to indicate that they need help, which is both incredibly distressing and dangerous.

Integration of an emergency call system into Amazon Echo enables a simple voice command like “Alexa, get help” to send an immediate alert directly to nursing stations and caregivers’ mobile phones. Residents have a back-up device for an emergency occurring in their room, increasing peace of mind and safety! If you’d like to learn more about how to achieve this at your community, take a quick look at our Arial emergency and nurse call solution.