Caregiving and Alexa

This blog details the journey of how caregivers are using Alexa to make their lives easier.

Alexa Caregiving Scenario: The Nursing Home

Please note: Names, relationships and specific details have been changed.

GOAL:  The goal was to reduce isolation and increase quality of life by installing an Alexa device in the nursing home.

Background:  Amanda has a father, Jack, in the nursing home. Jack is in his late 70's and has middle-stage dementia. He doesn't have a smart phone or ipod because he forgets to put it in the charger. Jack loves listening to music and talking to his daughter. He also likes science fiction but can't read any longer.  His favorite chair is a recliner. Jack has good hearing and can see, but he needs a walker to get around.

Wi-fi Setup: Jack's nursing home has wi-fi and they allow residents to hook up their devices. They also allowed Amanda access to their wi-fi with her smart phone so the Dot could be set up in the nursing home.

Amazon Account Setup: Both Dots are set up under Amanda's account.

Amanda's Dot is named Amanda.

Jack's Dot is named Jack.

We put a pin code in so inadvertent Amazon ordering can be stopped. (You have to say a four digit code before an order will go through.)

Physical Setup: Amanda has an Alexa Dot in her living room in her apartment.

We set up an Alexa Dot in Jack's room at the nursing home on the dresser underneath the TV across the room (about 5 feet) from his chair. Currently, Jack doesn't have a roommate.

Initial Skills Training:

Drop In: The Drop In skill is like having an intercom between two Alexa devices. You can use this even if you don't have a smartphone connected to the setup account.

Amanda's account is set up to allow Drop Ins from her account  only.

We were able to test Drop In. The command is easy to execute.

"Alexa, drop in on Amanda" or "Alexa, drop in on Jack."

  • During the testing, John was extremely happy.
  • It doesn't require a smartphone.
  • It doesn't require him picking up anything.
  • He can just speak.
  • Amanda is thrilled to be able to say goodnight to him every night.

Potential Road Bumps

  • What happens if he gets a roommate?

Music:  Jack is a big music buff and plays guitar. He is a fan of Joe Pass, a jazz guitarist.

The name Joe Pass is a hard one for Alexa due to the ending s's. We had to work with Jack for a few minutes so he could correctly enunciate the name so Alexa complied rather than playing something else.  We will follow up on how this goes.

"Alexa, play Joe Pass music."

We modeled the "Alexa, Stop" command and how you have to say "Alexa" first to start her listening.

Jack's face lit up when he heard the music. We had to cajole him to try another skill before we left.

Games: Jack would be a perfect candidate for a "Name that Tune" type of game, but the current games have current music.  It would be great if there were more games by decade/genre.

The Magic Door, while not science fiction, seemed to hold his attention.

"Alexa, open the Magic Door."

Surprisingly, Jack seemed to get into this game. He easily gave Alexa the next command, and seemed interested in the storyline, since he chose all the "spooky" options. It will be interesting to see if he continues this game unprompted.


Jack was able to say he liked science fiction, but he was unable to hone in on one group. Amanda was going to purchase an Audible "Star Wars" book to see how he liked it.

We will have a follow up to see how things have progressed.