In this new era of technology, your aging Mom and Dad might not be up to date with all the new gadgets. Devices and technology change so often, you might also find it hard to keep up. But as resistant as they may be, some technology has so much potential to make seniors’ lives easier, it’d be a missed opportunity to not adopt it.
One of these technologies is voice assistants like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. These voice-activated daily assistant that can control devices around the house, make calls, provide entertainment, and answer over 100 million unique questions. You can link it to the TV, radio, thermostat and more by installing a compatible device and activating connections on your phone’s Home app. This virtual helper responds to voice commands, which means that someone with limited vision or reduced finger dexterity can easily use it.
Today, we focus on why Google Home could be the next big thing for seniors. Here are five reasons why:
Control and Manage Everything at Home
Seniors can enjoy more independence, even with mobility issues.
Google Home can automate a lot of things around the house, and it’s compatible with a lot of different brands and devices. Use it to turn lights on and off, adjust the thermostat, open or close blinds and shades, control music, change the TV channel, lock or unlock doors and more. It’s perfect if your loved one has trouble operating a remote, moving from room to room or seeing the buttons on the phone.
Google Home can also integrate with Google Calendar, Google Maps, Chromecast and other popular technologies. With your help, Mom or Dad can create shopping lists, set and snooze alarms or timers, get the weather or news, make calculations, look for recipe ingredients and even shop for products.
And–since it’s a Google product:–you can ask it questions the way you would with the search engine.
Use Simple and Intuitive Voice Commands
It’s perfect for someone with reduced vision or dexterity.
Voice recognition technology can really boost the quality of life for someone with vision problems, Parkinson’s, or arthritis in the hands. Google Home is a smart device that can give personalized answers to variations on basic instructions and questions. Start by saying, “OK Google” to activate its listening feature, and follow up with a simple question or statement. You don’t need to memorize a list of commands–but if you’re curious, here’s a good reference.
The Google Home assistant responds in a warm, friendly voice with nice pacing, and is easy to understand. If the senior can’t hear something, they can tell it to turn up the volume. It also recognizes distinct voices (you can have up to six accounts)–so Mom or Dad can use it, but so can you or a caregiver.
Set Up Daily Routines
Programmed actions and sequences make life easier for someone with memory loss.
You can create a routine of tasks that are activated when you say “Hey Google, good morning” or “Hey Google, good night.”
Here’s an example sequence:
“Hey Google, good morning”
- Lights turn on
- TV turns on
- Thermostat turns up by 5 degrees
- Medication reminder
- Weather update
- News update
- Alert for any events happening that day
With a pre-scheduled routine, seniors don’t have to remember to ask Google Home to complete a number of tasks every day–it remembers for them.
If they can’t recall the code for the front door or someone’s name and birthday, Google Home can tell them. Just use the app to set up routines and shortcuts.
Check out some more tips as to why seniors
Talk to Google Home and Get to Know Its Personality
It can feel like having a digital companion.
Google has programmed Home with its Google Assistant technology, which has a ‘personality’ of its own. Ask your Google Home to sing you a song or play one from the old days. Ask it to play a trivia game with you, or to tell you a story. Ask it questions like you would a real person. In a way, it’s like having a digital companion as it learns the user’s preferences and habits. For a senior who lives alone, a friendly voice available 24/7 can be a comforting option.
Make Hands-free Phone Calls
Improve communication by staying in touch with family or caregivers.
Both a conversation tool and a safety net, Google Home lets seniors make free calls anywhere in the US and Canada. Whether it’s “call daughter”, “call florist” or “call Nurse Next Door”, it syncs with the contact list associated with the voice of whoever’s using it. The only missing feature we can see is that it doesn’t support 911 calls at this time. But with instant contact with you or a caregiver, you can still have peace of mind.
How to Bring Up the Idea of New Technology
Some seniors might worry about new technology seeming intimidating and intrusive, or have concerns about privacy and security. Google only records commands when you say “OK, Google”, but you can always review or delete activity from the app. For ethical reasons, don’t track the user’s activity without their permission. You can mute its ‘listening’ feature and turn it off anytime.
Let Mom or Dad know that technology will help them live more independently and that it’s easier than it looks. This device can do a lot. But you don’t need to use it for everything. Pick five of its functions that’ll really make life easier, and pitch it so it doesn’t seem overwhelming.
Google Home is available in multiple languages, and considering how much it can do, it’s relatively affordable ($129 USD/$179 CAD). You can have more than one if your loved one lives in a house. However, it can pick up voice commands from across a room, especially if there’s limited background noise–so start with one and see if you need another.
If “I don’t know how to use the remote” and “I can’t remember your phone number” are regular concerns, a smart assistant like Google Home could be just what Mom or Dad needs.
*Note: This isn’t a paid ad–we just think the product is great!
Alongside Google Home, our caregivers can help your loved one with achieving Happier Aging. Learn more about our Companionship services here!