An article in Quartz made an interesting point. Why isn’t Amazon Echo and other communication devices standard in long-term care? during the pandemic, social isolation and loneliness increased dramatically. Restrictions kept millions locked indoors for months without visitors. Technology can help. But it needs to be accessible for residents with functional or cognitive limitations.
Many elderly people aren’t competent or comfortable with technology. Unfortunately, many require a staff member to assist. This can be difficult since most facilities are already short-staffed. Echo Shows have a “drop-in” function that can contact residents without needing them to fiddle with the technology.
I agree with the author who says the technology should be standard equipment.
I now believe the devices—or any similar technology with that same drop-in feature—belong inside every retirement and nursing home. Like telephones, they ought to be ubiquitous.
If privacy is a concern, there’s also a phone app. The Echo is not hidden. Echo doesn’t record anything. Users also decide who has “drop-in” privileges. Most nursing homes should see the Echo as a resident’s right to visitations. CMS even authorized the use of public funds to buy webcams and iPads during the pandemic.
Amazon announced new products designed with aging seniors in mind. Amazon is ahead of other tech companies by paying attention to the needs of millions of vulnerable adults. The new Alexa Together eldercare subscription service allows seniors to contact emergency services through their Alexa devices at home. Loved ones can track a person’s activities during the day, and even cue reminders for medications, remotely.