Virtual Assistants Expand Focus on Senior Care
Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant technology has been widely adopted by older adults, in part because it allows them to remain independent, says Nicolas Maynard, senior manager of Amazon’s Alexa for Everyone.
In December 2021, Alexa Together was introduced by Amazon as a subscription service that includes fall detection capabilities and urgent response, which provides hands-free, 24/7 access to a professional emergency helpline and notifies caregivers.
“Voice technology is a great simplifier for seniors, even for those who can be at first resistant to new technology. There are some pieces they have to set up, but once they get beyond that, it’s easy to tell Alexa to play music or set a reminder,” Maynard says.
The service also works with third-party devices that can detect when a customer has fallen or needs help, and prompts Alexa. Its partnership with Vayyar, for example, offers camera-free, wall-mounted sensors for fall detection response. And older adults won’t feel like they’re being constantly watched.
Centering Alzheimer’s Care with Camera Technology
Another company, SafelyYou, offers an artificial intelligence-powered camera system to provide fall detection for people with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Video is only captured and shared with families and caregivers when a fall occurs, and due to the nature of patients with dementia, serves as an extra set of eyes to assist with evaluation of falls.
“What happens right now is folks with Alzheimer's go to the ground and don't necessarily know that they're on the ground,” says George Netscher, founder and CEO of SafelyYou. “They can be on the ground for a long time, but even more pressing, they can't advocate for themselves.”
The service is mostly used in assisted living or skilled nursing communities, Netscher says. The company aims to expand to a residential service by the end of this year.