SIX YEARS AGO, when my grandmother was age 94, our family felt it was best for her to move from her home to a residential senior facility. She didn’t want to leave the house where she’d been living for more than 50 years. But with no close relatives nearby, we thought the time had arrived.
I’m not sure such a move would be necessary today.
Amazon just announced that its Alexa Together service will begin enrolling subscribers later this year. The service will allow friends and family members to keep tabs on a loved one, whether they live across town or across the country.
The service will provide a variety of options that should assist families with caregiving duties. Phone alerts will prompt family members to call if the person being monitored hasn’t been heard from for a predetermined length of time. An urgent response option will allow an elderly or disabled relative to request emergency assistance using a compatible Amazon device. Third-party devices will be available to detect if a person has taken a fall, and then notify emergency contacts.
Medical alert systems have been around for years. You may remember the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” TV ads for the LifeCall systems sold in the 1980s and ’90s. With the proliferation of voice-activated “smart home” devices over the past five years, virtual caregiving has the potential to be far more effective.
My grandmother turned 100 years old in April. She’s adapted to living in a residential facility. Still, I wonder: If the technology of today existed just a few years ago, would she still be living in her own home?