How Amazon’s Alexa is Combating Loneliness for Quarantined Seniors

By:  |  Category: Blog Tuesday, April 21st, 2020  |  No Comments

What an age to be a part of. And we don’t just mean the age of Coronavirus and quarantined life, but the age of technology and how we’ve benefitted from it.

We’ve especially benefitted from technology during the outbreak of this pandemic. How would we still be able to see and hear loved ones if not from our oh-so-treasured screened devices?

But, in all seriousness, if we did not have this capability, the ramifications of quarantine could be far worse than what they have been, which have already been quite severe (we don’t even want to imagine). 

Loneliness is also a serious health problem (pandemic or not), and “[loneliness] has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.”

How do we avoid loneliness when being asked to shelter-in-place?

In Northern California at the Eskaton assisted living communities all visiting hours and communal areas have been temporarily closed leaving only hallway-happy-hours and door-to-door candy deliveries.

Seniors have had to learn how to operate new technologies to stay in contact with their families and combat the isolation.

Luckily Eskaton’s 30+ communities had infrastructure in place for “residents and family members to transition to new ways of communication.” One of these ways is through “AI-powered voice assistants, that provide a more inherently engaging platform for seniors looking for stronger connections to their communities.”

As part of Eskaton’s K4Community platform, the director of strategic initiatives Therese Brinke placed Amazon Echo devices in residents’ rooms. When the COVID-19 crisis began in March, Brinke saw an increased usage of 3X over 30 days and a 12% increase in use from resident’s family and friends.

Why are seniors taking so fondly to these AI voice assistants? Because talking is natural, it’s easy, and the more they engage or “interface” with their Alexa, the more they learn from each other.

Once nearly 100% of residents in one of Eskaton’s communities began to use their devices regularly, Brinke “hastened the deployment to two additional communities in response to the pandemic.”

“Residents are using the voice assistant to call family members, to keep up to speed with community news and just to hear jokes, among other things.” Laughter is the best medicine, after all.

Brinke adds one last comment, that “it’ll be interesting to see once visitation restrictions are lifted, if we’ll see that desire to continue connecting virtually.” We certainly hope so.

If you need help with managed IT Services contact EnhancedTECH at 714-970-9330 or contact us at [email protected].

-Emmy Seigler

Sources: https://www.zdnet.com/article/for-seniors-on-covid-19-lockdown-alexa-proves-to-be-a-valuable-friend/?ftag=TRE-03-10aaa6b&bhid=28837826891618282212917048574090&mid=12793630&cid

https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20180504/loneliness-rivals-obesity-smoking-as-health-risk

Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-amazon-echo-on-table-977296/

Samantha Keller
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