Despite living nearly halfway across the U.S., Kate is the primary caregiver for her 90-year-old father. When she first bought an Echo device for him, Kate and her family worried about how he’d learn to use it. But over the years, Kate has been amazed at all the ways her dad adopted using Alexa. In the past few months, Kate and her dad also started using Alexa Together, a service designed to help aging customers feel more comfortable and confident living independently and to give their families peace of mind.
Kate and her dad are not alone—in fact, more than 25% of customers using Alexa Together communicate across state lines and 65% across different cities. To bridge the miles, we’re introducing two new Alexa Together features: Circle of Support, which helps the whole family pitch in, and, coming soon, a Remote Assist functionality that allows a primary caregiver, like Kate, to set up Alexa Routines for their aging loved one.
With Alexa Together, Kate’s dad—and so many others who rely on the support and love from their caregivers—can get comfort knowing their loved ones can easily check in on them through the activity feed in the Alexa app. They also know that if they ever need help, they can reach the Urgent Response emergency helpline at any time of the day—hands free.
Kate told us she looks forward to the daily alerts, which all Alexa Together customers who provide support can set up to receive each day when their loved one has their first interaction with Alexa or connected smart home devices. Caregivers can get notifications when there is no activity within a certain time, serving as a reminder to call and check in. Kate has also been able to help with Remote Assist, which her dad set up, allowing her to set reminders, add contacts to his contact book to easily call or message, or link a music service.
Circle of Support
With the new Circle of Support feature, the aging loved one can now have up to 10 caregivers pitching in and helping out. Both the aging person receiving support and the primary caregiver can add additional caregivers, known in the Alexa app as “circle members.” These circle members can be siblings, cousins, friends, or close neighbors who can stop by to visit in person. Circle members can even include the spouse of the primary caregiver so each spouse receives alerts on their smartphone. Circle members get peace of mind through the daily alerts and quick check-ins through the activity feed. Only the primary caregiver can use Remote Assist, if the aging loved one chooses to enable that feature. Both the aging loved one and the primary caregiver can remove any circle member at any time in the Alexa app.
Remote Assist Routines
Soon, the Remote Assist functionality, if enabled by the person receiving support, will allow the primary caregiver to remotely set up Alexa Routines for their aging loved one. Alexa Routines are designed to make customers’ days easier and more productive, grouping together actions they can do with Alexa and bundling them together seamlessly. For example, if every morning Kate’s dad turns off his alarm, turns on the bedroom light, asks about the weather, then plays the news, Kate will be able to set up a personalized Routine that does all of that automatically, without her dad needing to ask Alexa to do each action separately. Primary caregivers will be able to set up Routines for their aging loved ones just like they do on their own accounts, like turning on all of the household’s smart lights at sunset or setting up a goodnight Routine where Alexa will turn off smart lights and play sleep sounds. Amazon will automatically send an email about the newest Routine to the aging loved one so they are informed whenever a new Routine is set up.
Circle of Support is now available to all Alexa Together customers. New customers can sign up for the service by visiting Amazon.com/AlexaTogether. Either the person providing or receiving support can start the sign-up process, and both customers will need to complete the process to create the relationship. Alexa Together is available for $19.99 a month or $199 per year, but customers can sign up for a free limited-time, six-month trial.
Here is more from Kate on how she and her dad have enjoyed using Alexa and the Alexa Together service:
My 90-year-old father lives on his own in an independent living facility, and I live about 1,000 miles away and take care of his needs from afar.
My dad ended up in independent living after he fell and broke his pelvis six weeks after my mother’s passing. Prior to his accident, he was extremely active and social, loved the outdoors and anything to do with fishing. After serving in the Marine Corps, working in transportation and law enforcement, retirement brought them to North Carolina, and he was looking forward to fishing the coastal waters.
The accident changed all that, and even though he was sharp as a tack and we had a found a facility that met his needs, he was alone, and I worried about caring for him while he was recuperating and I was so far away.
I first discussed getting an Echo for my dad with my adult son who told me I was crazy. He kept saying, “He can barely use his cellphone, how will he ever figure out Alexa?” However, I had been using Echo devices in my work, and I thought Alexa would be something my dad could learn to use, find useful, and enjoy.
When I first introduced Alexa to my dad, I gave him one of the original Echo devices, and he thought it looked kind of like a can of soup.
But that “can of soup,” and the Echo devices we’ve adopted since then, have been crucial to giving me peace of mind and helping me help my dad. These days, my dad is partially blind and deaf, and Alexa has totally changed the way we operate—he can communicate with me without needing to fuss with phones or buttons, or even having to get up from his chair.
I have been using Alexa Together to set reminders for my dad and look forward to getting the morning notifications. My dad asks Alexa for help with the little things like setting alarms, scheduling reminders for him to take his medication, and playing his favorite songs. It brings me great peace of mind knowing I can reach him so easily.
Additionally, he now has an Echo Show in his home, which has been so important, especially during COVID. His living facility has been closed, so I was not able to see him for over 18 months—until Alexa allowed us to see each other on the device’s screens. We now “see” each other daily thanks to Alexa!
Alexa is not just great for me as a caregiver—my dad loves talking to Alexa. He loves hearing her suggestions about things he might like to tune into when he watches TV on his Fire TV. He also loves listening to his favorite operas and big band singers. I have been able to share old family photos as well as photos of his great-grandchildren, and he loves getting the unexpected visual memory on his screen every day.
I am so grateful to have Alexa devices for myself and my dad, and I wish I could recommend Alexa to more people with similar situations. Alexa has improved this time in our lives, making things a little less frustrating, making communicating a great deal easier, and giving us both peace of mind knowing we can just ask Alexa to drop in on each other at any time. This is, simply put, priceless.