Caregiving and Alexa

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

GLSS's Blog

The Beginning: Why We Teach Alexa to Caregivers

I have always been on or near the cutting edge of technology so I have been using an Echo Dot in my own home. Technology is always one of the first tools in my toolbox. At work, I've been working with the Family Caregiver program with Debby Segil and Taylor Lamberta. They are subject matter experts. Tehnology might not be the first tool in their toolbox, but they know what needs fixing. Together we are moving ahead to create an "Alexian" training program for caregivers. We rolled out the first training and 8 out of the 10 attendees who don't have technology as one of the first tools in their toolbox either want to continue and help us grow the program. 


There are places on the web that detail some information on what Alexa can do for people with dementia:

Here is a partial quote from

I have had a new product for about a week now and wanted to share with you how much it helps me. It is called the Amazon Echo. Before I tell you about the device itself, let me tell you what it does for me. I can answer this with one question: What day is it?​
I ask Phyllis June this one question constantly, which you have probably heard me mention before. Dementia has prevented me from keeping track of the date, among many other things. “So what?” you may ask. “What do you have to do that is so pressing you need to know what day it is?” The answer to this is, I don't have anything pressing to do. However, since we were young children, everything we do depends on knowing what day it is or what time it is. Most people do not realize this because knowing what day it is comes naturally to most everyone.​
Not knowing is not natural, and it can be very unsettling.​
To many, the Amazon Echo is simply a cool thing to have; just another nifty electronic gadget. ​But to a dementia patient, it is much more than that.​ It has afforded me something that I have lost: my memory. I can ask Alexa anything and I get the answer instantly. I can also ask it what day it is 20 times each day, and I will still get the same correct answer. (It also doesn’t get annoyed with me.)​
I hope you see the potential this thing has for you and your loved one. This obviously would not be something for someone in the later stages of the disease who has trouble speaking. But if you have a loved one who is repeatedly asking you the same questions, this may be the ticket. All they need to remember is their “wake word,” Alexa, Amazon or Echo.​
--Rick Phelps, Dementia Patient​

That quote sums up the power of Alexa for people with dementia. But we don't have a quote like that for caregivers. The "Alexian" training program hopes to come up with something that might not be as eloquent but will be as powerful for caregivers themselves. The journey to get there won't be without its up and downs; a journey of discovery is always difficult. We hope for great rewards at the end though for caregivers. 

Come on the journey with us. Help us find those rewards.

We'll be posting lessons and best practices (that you can help us hone) that come out of our stand-up in-person training.

Keep in mind that Alexa is changing every day so we may need to update posts a lot. You might catch things before we do. Let us know in the comments. You need a Disqus account to post there.

We will also be pointing to products on Amazon. These will have links that if you buy through them, a portion of your purchase goes back to fund the Caregiver program and initiatives like this website.  Greater Lynn Senior Services is a 501c3 nonprofit.

-- Katherine

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