Amazon Echo for Dementia: Technology for Seniors

amazon echo for dementia

Excerpt from this article:

Echo for dementia

Caregivers often get frustrated because seniors with dementia repeat questions endlessly, need to be entertained, or get anxious when you’re not around. Having Echo there to answer questions, talk about news or weather, or play music can give caregivers much-needed breaks.

Echo can’t completely replace human touch or real conversation, but the intelligent voice controls can make it feel like a helpful friend.

Echo’s voice-activated features are great for seniors with dementia:

  • Instantly answers questions, like “what day is it?” or “what time is it?” — it’s a machine, so it will never get annoyed or frustrated!
  • Plays music and read audiobooks and the news — no need to fuss with complicated controls
  • Tells fun jokes and riddles
  • Looks up information about anything — like, “what’s playing on TV tonight?”
  • Reports traffic and weather

My 102-year-old grandmother tries social media: ‘Is this what they do all day?’

Rose Wong, 102, is still learning how to use new forms of technology.

Excerpt from this article (thanks Paul M for the link!):

It’s hard to find much tech reporting that focuses on the centenarian market. Certainly there is a large industry developing assistive technologies for the ageing baby boomer generation, but you’re unlikely to read a review of the new iPhone 7 that queries how 102-year-old women with hearing aids and arthritic fingers will handle the slim new design and wireless AirPods.

…So I decided to interview my grandmother to get a century’s worth of perspective on the latest innovations.

The stuff she already uses
…Today, our family is also widely dispersed geographically (she has great-grandchildren living in Boston, Massachusetts and Durban, South Africa), but she keeps in touch by email (like any self-respecting techie, she has a Gmail address) and Skype.

She does most of her shopping online, preferring to try clothes on at home rather than in a cramped dressing room.

If she misses the 3pm airing of the PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill (“I get very annoyed if somebody calls me at that hour,” she said), she watches it online.

She also bowed to necessity and purchased a cellphone about 10 years ago, though she almost never uses it. “It’s only for emergencies,” she said of her flip-phone.

The stuff she doesn’t use
A few years ago, my sister bought my grandmother an iPad, in the hopes that its intuitive design would make it easier for her to get online. But the problem with the touch screen is that it requires a steady touch.

My grandmother’s hands show her age in a way that her face does not. It is difficult for her to straighten her fingers enough to place her finger pad on the screen.

…She is also wary of social media. In 2008, at the behest of my sister, she joined Facebook, but she’s never taken to it.

“People come on Facebook and they talk about so many things that are irrelevant,” she said.

What If Smart Homes Were Designed For Seniors, Instead?

Excerpt from this article:

So when Kevin Gaunt envisions the future of the smart home, he doesn’t think of it in terms of millennials, or their “picturesque Airbnb-style houses inhabited by attractive people who effortlessly interact with technology, dealing with all our chores and reading our deepest wishes before we are even aware of them.” Instead, he asks what the smart homes and conversational interfaces of the future can do for the elderly. And his answers seem a lot less empty than the thermostat-automating smart home bots of today.

As part of his graduate project at the Umeå Institute of Design’s Interaction Design in Sweden, Gaunt imagined a series of smart home bots aimed at helping the elderly, as opposed to these devices’ current roles as “gatekeepers to a particular company’s ecosystems,” as Gaunt puts it. “That led me to think about what if a future smart home had multiple [assistants] that each focused on a narrow set of tasks, like online shopping, managing the daily budget, or spying on the neighbors’ whereabouts,” says Gaunt.


It’s Not Your Grandparents’ Fault They Keep Getting Scammed Online

Tutor Helping Senior Woman In Computer Class

Excerpt from this article:

The success of these hacks and scams have led many software developers and security professionals to gripe about the so-called “stupid users” who simply cannot be saved from themselves and their terrible passwords. While it’s true, in a tautological sense, that removing all humans from the network would make it exceptionally secure, being “stupid” and being “poorly educated” are two very different things. There are a lot of smart people out there that simply don’t have the right information to keep themselves safe online, including seniors…

Yanking grandma and grandpa (or anyone else who doesn’t know how to respond to technogeek phrased pop-ups about ActiveX controls) offline is clearly not the answer. But given the rate at which seniors are being targeted, we could be doing a better job of getting basic information to this particularly vulnerable group.