ALEXA A USEFUL RESOURSE

Written by Gary Joseph LeBlanc, CDCS

Director of Dementia Education

Dementia Spotlight Foundation

We have a dear friend that was asked by Amazon if she would participate in a trial program to see how well their Alexa device can help a person living with dementia. Her opinion? She has nothing but positive things to say about how much the device has helped her manage her daily living.

Let’s talk about medication reminders. Although the person living with dementia may need their caregiver’s assistance, they can set up an online calendar (such as a Google Calendar). They should be sure to schedule morning, midday and evening meds as repeated events. Personally, I use this for my evening meds, which I often forget and end up taking too late at night, usually right before I hit the sack. Now I have Alexa, verbally reminding me at 6:50pm, “Evening meds in 10 minutes.” This is a fantastic tool. That calendar can be used for doctor appointments and much more. It helps keep life organized.

Amazon Music is another great option. Just say, “Alexa, play me some soothing music,” or any other style you might want to hear. I am a true believer in music therapy when it comes to dementia. Try having an endless supply of song lists being shuffled automatically. You even have the option of having a full album you loved in the past being played.

Our friend also loved the interminable audio books available. The best feature for her is it starts off where she left off. You can also ask it to re-read the last chapter to get back in the groove of the story. And for those of you that are writers, Alexa is a great spell check tool. “Alexa, spell encyclopedia,” or whatever word you need assistance with.

Be creative. Try using it for a shopping list. How about a checklist. If you are out of coffee, just shout, “Alexa, put coffee on my shopping list!” Before leaving the house, just ask to have the list sent to your iPad.

Now, as far as cooking goes, Alexa is a simple way to set a timer. “Alex, set timer for 20 minutes.” I use this option myself all the time. Today’s technology can be extremely helpful for those living with dementia, After the initial setups, it can save a lot of arguments and frustration.

A couple of last options, “Alexa, what’s the weather like outside?” or “Tell me the headlines in today’s news.” Anything that can help people living with dementia stay in a daily routine and lower his or her anxiety level is a winner in my book.

Now I will end with saying I started to realize what a polite person I am when I caught myself saying, “Please and Thank you, Alexa.” You will too!

Gary Joseph LeBlanc, CDCS

Director of Dementia Education

Dementia Spotlight Foundation

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