Amazon Alexa Program
Applying to the program is as simple as contacting the office and expressing interest. I’ll call (or email) in return to ask a few questions about the requirements, and then again to establish a date to pick the device up (or have it dropped off if need be). No signatures or anything else, that’s it! And there is no cost to the program for participants.
Speaking of those requirements, there are only 3 restrictions for applying. First, the applicant must be 60 years of age or older at the start of the program. Second, they must have a smartphone (just something that can run the Alexa app) – this is required to set the device up and make calls with it. And third, they must have some form of internet access for the device to connect with and make those calls. In some cases CRIS can assist with internet access as well, either by getting a signal booster in buildings where the internet doesn’t quite reach all apartments or by connecting them with our Senior Information Services who can talk to them about finding low cost internet service.
The Amazon Echo Show device was chosen based on the success of similar programs in other locations in the United States. It’s a fairly cost-effective tool with a variety of functions that can be useful for anyone trying to feel more connected. Making video calls is the core feature of the device, helping seniors talk face-to-face with some of the people they love. It can help maintain routines and lifestyles with alarms, reminders, and a synced calendar. And it can help with safety too; it can let family members “drop-in” and check on their parent/relative; it can be set to watch and listen for alarms or break-ins while the user is away or asleep; the user can call across the room for help in the case of a fall or an accident, having the device reach out to emergency services or an emergency contact!
The Social Stimulation calls are an interesting subject as well. The topics tend to be the same for each year, but that’s only because they’re starter topics. I’ll be reaching out each month for a personal conversation with each client, and while that’ll likely start on those topics I look forward to talking about everything under the sun with them. The starter topic for the rest of July is going to be the 4th and any summer plans they may have had. August is back to school season, September we’ll chat about fall and any plans they might have, October we start with Medicare open enrollment, while November and December are both holiday seasons!