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Alexa Together – New Tool To Remotely Monitor Elderly Relatives

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Updated December 7, 2021Alexa Together was formerly known as Alexa Care Hub! And where the Care Hub was free, the new service is now $19.99 for a monthly plan or $199.00 for the yearly plan.

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 Together!

…Alexa Together can notify you when a family member uses their Alexa device, offer a feed of interactions they had with the assistant throughout the day, and function as a quick way to get a hold of each other in the case of an emergency

TheVerge.com

What Is Alexa Together?

using alexa's care hub skill to remotely monitor seniors

It’s a new Alexa feature to help family caregivers 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 caregivers that were designated to be alerted.

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 parents and for them to let you know that they are okay without interrupting the day for either of you.

How Does Alexa Together Work?

Basically, the Alexa Together skill keeps tabs on the activity that your senior loved one performs on their Alexa devices.

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 members as the emergency contacts.
  • This is a paid feature. The cost is $19.99 if you choose to pay monthly or $199.00 if you choose to pay yearly. It’s available through your Alexa app.
  • It also can be coordinated with any Alexa enabled motion sensor and smart lights and appliances.
  • The 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.
  • It will contact multiple people on your list. But these people do need an Alexa device in their own home and of course, the elderly family member needs one in their own home as well.
  • All 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 caregivers 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 caregivers are 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.
  • The caregivers can also set up reminders on their loved one’s Echo device as well as other things like work on shopping lists, music, etc.
  • 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 activity feed.
  • You can also hook up Alexa Together with 3rd party fall detection devices (Vayyar and SkyAngelCare) which will alert you if a fall is detected.
  • 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 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 Alexa Together service.

How To Set Up Together

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

To set up Alexa Together for your elderly loved one…

  • The senior activating / purchasing Alexa Together starts the setup process from their Amazon account. You can purchase the program here.
  • In that set up process they will designate the people they want to be on their list.
  • These individuals will then receive an email to finalize and confirm the setup.

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

Where Is Alexa Together Available?

As of now (December 2021) the Alexa Together 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 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.

The new subscription also introduces an urgent response feature which enables hands-free, 24/7 access to an emergency helpline. That way, if an elderly family member takes a fall at home or has another type of emergency, they can just ask Alexa to call for help.

TechCrunch.com

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?”

Gadgets.ndtv.com

You can learn more about the Alexa Together service here.

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