10 Top Tips for Seniors Using Smart Home Assistants

A tool that can do many things simply with a voice command could offer seniors a lot of benefits in some obvious (and some not-so-obvious) ways. Here are our top 10 tips for seniors who want to make a smart assistant the latest and greatest addition to their household. 

1. Schedule reminders.

Need to meet a friend for a traditional English tea at 4 p.m. sharp? Take your medicine? Check your blood sugar? Digital assistants are a great way to help ensure that all the little tasks of the day don’t get passed over. Smart devices excel at telling you what you need to be doing and when you need to be doing it. Who knows? You could become known as the Queen (or King) of Punctuality in your friend group!

2. Turn on lights.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the number one cause of injury among older Americans, so implementing tips to help reduce the risk of falls around the house can be a positive thing. What’s one of the easiest ways to help reduce fall risk? Proper lighting. Many different smart home devices can connect to a lamp or even overhead lights. Now, turning on your bedroom lights for a midnight snack run can be as simple as giving Alexa a shout-out.

3. Call your friends.

Video calls have hit the mainstream, and few devices make video calls easier than a smart home assistant. Without buttons to push or menus to navigate, staying in touch with your favorite people could be as easy as saying your device’s trigger phrase — for example, “Alexa” for Amazon’s Alexa-compatible devices, “Siri” for Apple devices and “Okay, Google” for Google devices — then saying, “Call the best kid in the whole world.” (We promise we won’t tell your other kids you have a favorite.)

4. Play games.

Some smart home devices like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Nest Hub have displays that can double as gaming devices with seemingly limitless options. From Mad Libs and puzzles to poker and Jeopardy, you’ll likely find something in the device’s app store that will tickle your fancy, challenge your brain or connect you with friends.

5. Find your favorite songs.

What’s that song from your high school dance? You know — the one that goes “Dah do dah, do do dah do dum dah do do dah”? Not that long ago, you would be out of luck, unless your high school sweetie happens to have the memory of an elephant. Now, smart devices may help. Certain smart assistants have the capability to help you identify songs by simply humming a tune — no musical expertise required.

6. Secure your house.

Home automation is hitting the next level. Several smart assistants work with devices that can be installed on your doors and windows to lock and unlock them and notify you of events. Some smart devices can even display a live video of someone at your front door and let you speak with them from any place you have an Internet connection. These devices can help you unlock your front door without leaving your kitchen — or scare off porch pirates poaching your Amazon orders.

7. Practice mindfulness.

Smart assistants put the ohm in Om — these assistants can help practitioners of any age engage in guided meditation, prayer and mindfulness practices, which studies suggest are associated with improved well-being. Not only can some smart assistants help fit these practices into your schedule; they can help lead you through a session too.

8. Read a book.

It’s no secret that getting older may increase one's risk for eye diseases and vision impairment, but reduced vision shouldn’t slow down your consumption of Brené Brown’s latest bestseller or Tolkien’s greatest hits. Some smart assistants like Alexa are capable of reading anything that supports text-to-speech technology, including digital books. Plus, with a growing library of audiobooks available through services like Audible, your summer beach reading could start with a simple voice command.

9. Order dinner.

Do you feel like cooking three meals a day, every single day … forever? If you’re like many people, you may want to take a break from cooking every once in a while. Enter: Your smart home assistant. Many national chains have apps that can be added to your smart assistant device to help make ordering dinner as easy as saying, “Alexa, order me a pizza!”

10. Clean the house.

Last, but definitely not least — your smart assistant can actually help you clean your home. When you add an automated vacuum cleaner like iRobot’s Roomba to your household, you can ask your smart assistant to help vacuum your floors, mop up a mess, schedule a cleaning session and more. Bonus tip: Make sure all the clutter is off the floor before you ask the robot to clean up. Not only will you make your robot’s virtual life a bit easier, you may also help reduce the risk of fall hazards. What’s not to like about that?

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