These days we are relying more and more on our electronic gadgets to help us through our days and one of the most significant devices to do that are any of Amazon’s Alexa products. Whether it’s a gift or something you purchase for yourself – I can truly say that they are becoming an important part of any household.
Is Alexa A Good Gift For Parents? – Not only are Amazon’s Alexa devices a good gift for your parents, they are also an excellent gift for families and adult children of elderly parents. After the initial cost of the device, there’s no other cost for many of it’s great services.
If you are considering gifting an Alexa device to a senior person you do have to ask yourself…
- Are they able to learn how to use it? If you’re not sure, start out with an Echo Dot which is very low cost and start with just a few skills like asking for the weather, playing music, using it as a speaker, etc. Then you’ll be able to see how well it may work for them.
- Do they have Wi-Fi in their home? I do have a friend or two whose parents do not have Wi-Fi in their homes so obviously, any of these voice activated devices would not work for these households.
As long as the answer to these two questions is YES, then I would highly encourage you to give them this really great gift!
Update: Beginning October 17, 2020 – iPhone users will be able to ask Alexa to stream shows from Apple Podcasts. “To get started, you’ll need to open the Alexa app and link your Apple ID. If you’ve already done this to enable Apple Music, you shouldn’t have to go through the process again. After that, you’ll need to speak the magic words to Alexa to get started.” (express.co.uk)
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Is Alexa A Good Gift?
I own several Alexa devices and I can honestly say that I use them all multiple times a day, every single day. So, I would say absolutely, YES, any of the Alexa devices would be a good gift for your parents, your friends, etc.
The reason I say this is simply because of the many different ways that Alexa can be used by you and/or whomever you gift it to. Here are just a few of those ways…
- Create ongoing lists like to do list or grocery list
- Use it as an intercom from room to room
- Use it as a speaker for your TV
- Call others and video chat (with the Echo Show)
- Set up alarms to wake up to, cooking alarms, etc.
- Get updates on news from news stations, podcasts and more
- Use it as a medical alert device
- Call 911 in case of an emergency
- Use it to monitor an elderly parent via the Drop In Skill and/or the Care Hub skill
- Keep up with your calendar
- Create reminders and notifications
- Control lights, television and other devices
- Use it as a burglar deterrent
- Combine it with a camera, like the Blink, for home security
- Play music (and movies with Echo Show)
- Play sleep sounds for better sleep
- Order from restaurants
- Ask questions (answers provided by Bing search engine)
- Play games (I love the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire game)
These are just a few of the many ways that I use Alexa in my home and how it can also be used in your home or the home of the person you gift these great devices to.
The Best Way To Set Up Alexa For Elderly Parents
My personal opinion is that I believe older adults should have an Alexa product in every room of the house. The low prices on the Echo Dot products make that a very doable thing but I will say that the main room of the home (the room your elderly loved one spends the most time in) should have an Echo Show.
The reason I say this is because the Echo Show is equipped with a screen and video camera – this option allows the seniors in the home to communicate visually with their families AND the Drop In skill available on the Echo Show allows family members to monitor their elderly loved ones.
It’s a win-win situation in my opinion.
Alexa devices are easy to set up – just follow the instructions that come with the device and you should be up and running in just a few minutes.
Check out Alexa’s new Care Hub feature – a new way to remotely monitor elderly relatives.
What Not To Do With Alexa
There are a few things to watch out for when using a smart device, such as Alexa / Echo:
- Don’t put it somewhere where it will get wet or something can spill on it. So, while you can certainly keep one in the kitchen or bathroom, keep it far from where you prepare food or away from the kitchen sink.
- Likewise, if you put it in the bathroom, don’t put it anywhere that it could get knocked into the toilet, sink, or shower / bathtub.
- Don’t put it near a window where someone could interact with it. You don’t want them to ask it to turn off your home security system or unlock your smart locks.
Can I Drop In On My Parents With Alexa?
As I mentioned earlier in this article, one of the great skills that Alexa devices have is the Drop In skill. It’s so extremely useful as a monitoring device for elderly parents.
I would recommend to use the Echo Show product if you are specifically interested in this skill but do know that it can be used on any Alexa device.
Basically, it allows you to instantly connect to another person’s Alexa device – acting like an intercom. The person you are connecting to must have given you permission to do so at first, and then you can “drop in” on them. They do not have to answer in order for you to drop in.
This can be a wonderful way for children of aging parents to monitor their senior loved ones and also to check in on them. Of course, permission has to be initially given but then – it’s just a matter of activating the skill and when and if needed it can also be de-activated, of course.
You may be thinking that this might be an “invasive” skill – after all – you would be initiating a video call with your elderly parent and the video would just begin without them even having to answer!
But – here’s a scenario where that might be useful.
A friend of mine is always worried about his Mom. You see, his mother suffers from diabetes and she has had a stroke in the past. Although she is able to live alone and functions well – she is still a high risk because of these medical conditions. She could faint or become dizzy due to a mini stroke or go into a diabetic coma.
Of course, if the risk of any of that happening was high I would certainly recommend a home monitoring device like this one.
But, if for whatever reason the family decided together that they needed another option, they could use Alexa’s drop in skill. With this function, her family could check in on her periodically throughout the day to make sure that she is okay.
If you want to know about this great skill – check out our article on the Echo Show Drop In Skill For The Elderly.
What Can Alexa Control?
The list of devices that Alexa can control just seems to keep on growing! Just to give you an idea, here’s a list…
- Plugged in lamps (I use this the most so far)
- Other plugged in items like the coffee makers on Amazon
- Fixed lights like overhead lights
- Television (yes, you can turn your TV on and off and also change channels if you have the Fire Stick).
- Door locks for doors with dead bolts or for doors without dead bolts
- Garage doors
- Alarm systems (I know that SimpliSafe works with Alexa and Alexa works with Google Nest video doorbells)
- Smoke detectors
- Battery operated wall clocks
- Roomba vacuum cleaner (I use this all the time)
- Smart ceiling fans
- Appliances like…
- And so much more coming!
Some items are Alexa equipped like the Echo Wall Clock – basically it has Alexa capability built in to it. Other items require a smart plug that is Alexa equipped so anything you plug into that smart plug can now be controlled via your Alexa app and then of course, your voice.