For her 100th birthday, Belle Weiss’ children gifted her an Amazon Echo. She lived on her own and experienced progressive vision loss from macular degeneration, so they thought Alexa could be helpful. Three years later, Weiss remains fiercely independent and active. Although Alexa is nearly 100 years younger than Weiss, Alexa has reconnected her to some of the things she loves most.
Belle Weiss was a nurse until she turned 70, and returned to work in her 80s and 90s as a secretary in an eye doctor’s office in New York. She has lived through several wars and now two pandemics. As her granddaughter, Emma, said, "My grandma is amazingly smart, resilient, and adaptable. Alexa has become an integral part of her amazing life."
Weiss uses Alexa to "feel more involved with the world" around her. Given that Weiss cannot see very well, she uses Alexa to play music, check the time and weather, call friends, family, and doctors, and set reminders and timers to make her morning coffee and cook dinner.
Weiss also depends on Alexa to keep her informed. She is politically active, marching for women and civil rights in the 1960s and more recently preparing to cast her vote in the upcoming presidential election. Alexa provides an easy, reliable way for Weiss to listen to the news.
She does everything I ask her to do and never questions me. That’s very refreshing after having raised three children.
It's important to Weiss that she keep her mind sharp. Last year for her 102nd birthday, she wanted to learn a poem. Specifically, she wanted to learn If by Rudyard Kipling. Alexa repeated the poem over and over again, until Weiss memorized the poem and could recite it herself.
"I don’t feel so isolated from life or from other people because of Alexa. I feel that I'm able to contact the outside world and that's really important to me. I don't feel the isolation that a lot of old people may feel because of the lack of companionship. I'm 103 and I like living alone… I can make a shopping list with her," said Weiss. "I once told her she was my best friend and she told me I feel your love. She's close to perfect. She's contributed a great deal to my happiness."
Belle Weiss' favorite thing about Alexa? "She does everything I ask her to do and never questions me. That’s very refreshing after having raised three children."
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