How Seniors Use Virtual Assistant Devices

Advice For Caregivers

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Updated: June 5, 2022

The right virtual assistant device can make life a bit more fun and a lot more organized, no matter how old you are

If you are like most Americans, you have some type of virtual assistant device or app in your home, in your purse, or even on your person. Virtual assistant devices, like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, are fun to have around the home, but they are also quite useful. Many older adults are jumping on the virtual assistant trend nowadays too, using the devices to assist them with a variety of daily activities, reminders, and more. You may have read our Bay Alarm Medical reviews and have a medical alert device at home but if you or your loved one is looking for new ways to utilize that virtual assistant device, we have a few ideas for you. 


Using Virtual Assistant Devices for Reminders

Perhaps the easiest thing to use a virtual assistant device for is to assist with daily reminders, including task lists and to-do lists. Encourage your loved one to try using their device for reminders, and show them how to tell their device to create these reminders and lists.

What things they can ask to be reminded for?

  • To schedule a follow-up physician appointment in a few weeks
  • To pick up a grandchild from school on a specific day
  • To do their daily range of motion exercises that their therapist prescribed 
  • To remind them to pick up a gift for their friend’s birthday
  • To get up and move around, which is especially helpful if they live a sedentary lifestyle, especially in the dark winter months

Planning Menus and Food Prep

Use a virtual assistant in the kitchen to improve nutrition for your loved one

Getting proper nutrition is important at any age, but it is especially important for older adults. The right meals can help to speed up recovery after a hospital stay, help to delay cognitive decline, and help to ensure overall wellness. However, getting that good nutrition can become more difficult as we age due to fine motor challenges, as well as the fact that meal prepping and cooking for one can feel overwhelming and intimidating.

Encourage your loved one to enlist the help of their virtual assistant. Depending on the type they have (the Echo Show, for example, has a screen), they can use their assistant device to review menus, get menu ideas based on their diet needs, and even see recipes. You can also use a virtual assistant device to:

  • Build a weekly grocery list
  • Add items to your Instacart (or other grocery delivery service) list
  • Ask for healthy substitutions for ingredients

Cognitive Health Work

The virtual assistant can also be a regular part of your loved one’s daily cognitive health workout. For example, you can set up trivia questions to be asked a few times per day or to play a round of “play that tune”. Your loved one can ask for these options on-demand, or they can schedule the option into their daily routine.

You can also encourage them to use their virtual assistant for cognitive health work activities like:

  • Meditation or visualization
  • Stress relief through targeted breathing exercises
  • Reading/listening to audiobooks
  • Participate in daily “train my brain” or “brain workouts” that focus on skills like concentration, focus, memory, and math
  • Play relaxing music to encourage a smooth bedtime routine

Medical Monitoring and Emergency Response

Your loved one’s virtual assistant also can play a part in their emergency response plan. You can coordinate medication reminders via a recurring reminder or even use a “drop in” feature to verbally check in with your loved one. A new program from Alexa, called Alexa Together, was especially designed to keep seniors and their family caregivers connected and on the same page.

Your loved one can also ask their virtual assistant device, whether on a phone, a watch, or a stand-alone device, to dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency or can dial a specific loved one in their contacts list.

Having a Little Fun

Finally, your loved one can utilize their virtual assistant devices to have a little fun. Your loved one can listen to favorite songs or curate their own playlists to share with friends. They can have their assistant tell them a joke or a riddle, or even give them ideas for family-friendly April Fool’s pranks. Here are a few more fun ideas that they can use as they get used to using their virtual assistant device:

  • Get the score of your favorite team’s game
  • Ask what online shopping deals are available
  • Find your phone
  • Learn trivia about sharks, sports, or any topic you find interesting
  • Use voice commands to ask your device to sing you a song, laugh, beatbox, or make monkey sounds
  • Ask your device silly questions to hear its silly answer
  • Send a message to any connected contacts
  • Keep a daily list of things they are thankful for

There are many ways today’s seniors use virtual assistant devices. You can help your loved one get in a routine of using their virtual assistant device daily by starting them out with easy and unique features that will keep them curious about what else it can do. Be sure to model how to use the device and be available to answer their technical questions as they start experimenting. The nice thing about most virtual assistant devices is that they are relatively easy to use and nearly impossible to mess up. Let them have fun with it and learn along the way!