It’s estimated that one in five adults in the United States now have access to a smart speaker. There are nearly 50 million of these voice-powered devices now in use. Alexa could very well be the most spoken name in the world.
These devices can offer more than quick ways to find out the temperature outside or order something from Amazon. They’re helping seniors and their care providers. Providers like Libertana Home Health and Bayada Home Health Care are using Amazon’s Echo technology to deepen access to medical assistance and use Alexa’s artificial intelligence to be a digital and entertaining friend that can reduce feelings of loneliness.
The pace is accelerating
We’ll see technology continue to interact with seniors and caregivers as manufacturers find more ways to inject artificial intelligence into the home setting. For older adults, this means an increasing ability to maintain independence because of the digital assistants like Alexa and even Apple’s Siri.
We’re already familiar with the term “smart home.” Now we’ll see this technology migrate to help older adults living residential care facilities. There are already shining examples of technology-enabled homes that are focused on helping seniors popping up across the nation. This model home in San Diego is outfitted with an impressive array of technology that encourage greater independence for seniors, as well as helping caregivers with their responsibilities.
It’s a shared goal, and entire innovation centers are opening around the country that are showcasing technology-powered support for older adults. The Thrive Center is a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Louisville Metro, as well as companies such as CDW Healthcare, Samsung, Intel, Ergotron, Lenovo and HP/Aruba. Senior health care providers, including Kindred Healthcare and major skilled nursing provider Signature HealthCare are also involved.
Connecting seniors with healthcare professionals
Our desire for digital assistants in the home is extended to the healthcare industry, too. Congress and federal regulatory agencies are working with startups and well-established companies to make telehealth more accessible to seniors. The foundation was put in place to make this happen several years ago with governmental actions such as the 21st Century Cures Act. This legislation calls for ways to help seniors make better use of telehealth opportunities.
We’ve heard about IoT – the Internet of Things – and smart speakers are ushering this digital assistance into residential care homes for seniors to create opportunities for older adults to have richer and more independent lives, while still being connected to safety and instant assistance.