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Alexa Care Hub – New Tool To Remotely Monitor Elderly Relatives

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About 25% of homes in the USA have an Alexa device. And that’s just in America! There are homes with Alexa devices all over the world and they are just becoming more and more popular.

Well, the great folks at Amazon are venturing into serving the senior population with their new feature service called Alexa Care Hub.

Care Hub allows caregivers to both check up on and check in with their loved ones without placing a call or getting in the car.

What Is Alexa Care Hub?

using alexa's care hub skill to remotely monitor seniors

It’s a new Alexa feature to help the family caregiver to monitor the older adults in their lives. It works by creating a list of activities that the senior person performs with their Amazon Echo device and in addition, if they ask Alexa for help an alert will be sent to the caregiver’s smart phone.

So, if your elderly mother asks Alexa to play a song, the list will show that she asked for a song to be played and the time that she asked it. No details are given, just a general note.

It’s a great way to check up on your elderly parent and for them to let you know that they are okay without interrupting the day for either of you.

How Does Alexa Care Hub Work?

Basically, the care hub skill keeps tabs on the activity that your senior loved one performs on their Alexa devices. This Care Hub Connection needs two separate Amazon accounts, yours and the one that you are connecting to (i.e. your elderly loved one’s account).

Below is a list outlining how this great new service works for you and your older relatives.

  • I want to emphasize that this is NOT a 911 service and should not be considered as one. It basically uses your family member as the emergency contact.
  • This is a free feature – there is no monthly cost or subscription. It’s available through your Alexa app on any alexa accounts.
  • It also can be coordinated with any Alexa enabled motion sensor and smart lights and appliances.
  • The Care Hub service works with any Alexa smart speaker device but it’s recommended to use the Echo Show (aka Echo speaker) simply because if there are any emergency situations and help was needed – the caregiver could use the Drop In skill to turn the video on so they could see their loved one.
    Note: The ability of being able to do a video call in a simple way via an Echo Show device is a very strong reason for older adults to use the echo show vs. a standard echo dot product.
  • As of now, it can only be connected to one smart phone so only one family caregiver can use it. But the caregiver does need an Alexa device in their own home and of course, the elderly family member needs one in their own home as well.
  • Both parties have to give permission for this service to work. This is done through the set up process.
  • When your senior loved one activates Alexa by asking her a question or to perform a task, that activity gets listed and the family caregiver can then go to that list on their smartphone. It’s a great way to check up on mom and dad.
    NOTE:  It does NOT show you what they asked or what specific song or movie they played, etc.  It just indicates that an activity was performed.
  • The caregiver is not notified every single time an activity is performed.  So don’t worry that your phone is going to keep going off every time your elderly parent asks Alexa a question or plays some music.  Instead, there will just be a list of activities posted (an activity feed) and you can then check that list periodically throughout your day.
  • You can use Alexa motion sensors on things like medicine cabinets, appliances, front door, windows, etc. These sensors would then monitor activities (like the door being opened, etc.) and will list that on the care hub’s activity feed.
  • If there is any specific activity that you do WANT to be alerted of right away then you can set up that up. This would work very well if your elderly parent has some form of mild dementia and you may be worried that they walk out the front door.
  • Also, if there is NO activity performed for a certain period of time then you will get a notification about that which will prompt you to try to contact your elderly loved one to make sure that everything is okay.
  • You in turn can set up reminders on their Alexa to announce a reminder to take medication or that a doctor’s appointment is coming up, etc.
  • If your senior parent fell or got injured, they can ask Alexa for help and you (the caregiver) will get a text alert, a push notification and a phone call letting them know that there is a problem.
  • You can also set up care hub alerts. An example would be if no activity has been detected by 10:00 am then an alert will be sent out to your phone. There are multiple types of alerts that can be set up all for the purpose of monitoring your elderly loved ones.
  • We would recommend to place an Alexa device / Echo Show in every room of the house, even the outside porch.

Here’s a video about the free Care Hub service.

How To Set Up Alexa Care Hub

To set up care hub, the care receiver (i.e. your older parent) must send you an invitation first.  So, let’s do that first.

To set up care hub for your elderly loved one…

  • Go to the Amazon Alexa app under the recipient’s Amazon account (so your parents’ smartphone or your phone but under THEIR Amazon account).
  • Click on Settings
  • Scroll to the bottom where you can click on Care Hub
  • Click on Get Started or Create Relationship
  • Click on Receive Support
  • Follow the prompts to send out the invitation to the person who will be monitoring
  • Once the invitation has been accepted you can then set up care hub on your own Alexa app

To set up care hub for the caregiver…

  • Go to the Amazon Alexa app on your phone.
  • Click on Settings
  • Scroll to the bottom where you can click on Care Hub
  • Click on Get Started or Create Relationship
  • Click on Provide Support
  • Follow the prompts to complete the set up process
  • You’ll be prompted to send your senior a text message (SMS) or an email and once they receive that email and complete the instructions it will be all set up.

It seems a bit complicated – I mean it’s not as easy as just saying “Alexa, set up care hub for me.” But maybe eventually she’ll be able to do that!

Where Is Alexa Care Hub Available?

As of now (May 2021) the Alexa Care Hub service is only available in the United States.  

But I am certain that Amazon will monitor it’s usage and if successful, it will begin launching the program in Canada, the UK and other parts of the world.

All in all, this is just another great free way that older children and caregivers can remotely monitor their elderly loved ones and get some peace of mind knowing that they are okay.

But you know, this will definitely expand to more than just adult children monitoring their elderly parents.

While Care Hub is marketed towards informal caregivers — spouses, family, friends or neighbors supporting a senior — the offering could eventually make a difference in the professional home care world. Many home care companies have experimented with in-home monitoring through Alexa or similar voice-enabled devices, though actually leveraging those tools on a day-to-day basis is still relatively uncommon.

So, needless to say exciting changes will be coming within the world of smart home devices in the next 10 years, I’m sure. I am already noticing one such feature known as “latent goals”. Which is basically a step towards normalizing the conversation between Alexa and the user.

So, when you ask Alexa about the time required for steeping tea, you will be answered saying, “Five minutes is a good place to start,” and then it will ask a follow-up: “Would you like me to set a timer for five minutes?”

You can learn more about the Alexa Care Hub service here.

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