Alexa Together: A New Solution for Family Caregivers

Assistive Technology

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Video via: Alexa Together

 

With most family homes already equipped with an Alexa device or the app, it was just a matter of time before Amazon found a way to use technology to help family caregivers and their older loved ones. Thanks to a new program called Alexa Together, family caregivers can easily check in on their loved ones no matter how far apart they may be from one another. 

But the opportunities don’t stop at just a quick check-in. Alexa Together provides everything from emergency response to fall detection to more. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Alexa Together?

Alexa Together is a new service that connects Alexa devices, including smartphones with the Alexa app, between family members. It is not a service that is automatically on the Alexa app or any Alexa device. Instead, it is an additional service that comes with a cost.

How much does Alexa Together cost?

Currently, Alexa Together is featuring a free trial for 6 months. After the initial trial, family members can subscribe to the service for either $19.99 per month or $199 per year. As of right now, Alexa Together is only available in the United States. Subscribers must also have Amazon accounts set up as well.

How many subscriptions do I need?

The senior and their caregiver only need one active subscription to connect via Alexa Together. Either participant can pay for it, and it can be terminated at any time. It’s important to note that two parties are not required to enjoy the Alexa Together services. For example, a senior can subscribe on their own so that they can have access to Urgent Response services and to link up their compatible fall detection device.

How does Alexa Together work?

Family caregivers can keep up with their loved one through alerts about their routines and activity. Image via Alexa Together.

As long as the family caregiver and the senior both have an Echo device at their home, or a smartphone with an Alexa app, Alexa Together will help to connect them in new ways. For example, family caregivers can set up reminders and customized alerts so that the Echo device in the senior’s home will verbally remind the senior to take a medication, take a stroll, or any other task the family caregiver sets up.

A quick tap on the family caregiver’s Alexa app can also allow the caregiver to use the “drop in” function to their loved one’s device. This allows for a quick check-in or conversation and can be especially helpful if the senior has the Echo Show so the caregiver can see firsthand how they look as well as how they sound.

Family caregivers don’t have to check in all the time in order to see what their loved one is up to. A customized Activity Feed feature sends an alert to the family caregiver if there has been any incident at the senior’s home or if the senior has missed a reminder or not used the Echo device in a certain timeframe.

How many family caregivers can connect?

Alexa Together allows the senior and the primary family caregiver to enlist the support of other family members. The Circle of Support feature gives the chance for the senior and primary caregiver to invite other members to be able to check in, set reminders, keep up with the senior’s activities, and perform other functions. Each member of the Circle of Support must have an Alexa app on their smartphone or an Echo device.

What about emergency response?

Seniors using the Alexa Together service can simply ask Alexa to dial 9-1-1 or to contact Alexa’s Urgent Response if they need assistance. A trained agent is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to offer support and follow-up assistance as needed. Even better, if the senior asks Alexa for emergency support, the family caregiver receives a notification and can follow up with a phone call or video call as soon as the emergency call has ended.

For seniors that use a compatible device that has fall detection technology, Alexa Together will call Urgent Response on the user’s behalf and notify the family caregiver.

What fall detection devices are compatible?

Currently, Alexa Together works with compatible, third-party fall detection services. These third-party companies right now are Vayyar and SkyAngelCare.

Can I still use other Alexa features?

Of course! Both the family caregiver and the senior can still utilize Alexa for their favorite features, whether that is to create the perfect playlist, turn on the lights upstairs, or add an item to your personal to-do list.

What about privacy?

Using Alexa Together means all users are subject to the same type of privacy protection offered from the more traditional Alexa app or Echo devices. Both the senior and the primary family caregiver have the chance to add or delete any additional members of the Circle of Support and either the senior or the caregiver can terminate their Alexa Together connection at any time.

The Alexa Together service could be a good fit for you and your loved one if you are both tech-savvy enough to know how to operate an app or Echo device. It gives a chance for the family caregiver to be actively involved with the daily life of their loved one and the senior the peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is there to help when they ask for it, without pushing a button on a pendant or watch.