COVID-19 Updates
November 1, 2021

Ways to Optimize Voice Assistants for Seniors

With new technology constantly emerging, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with it all, but it can also bring new opportunities for seniors to live healthier lives longer. It is estimated that roughly 6.7 million people in Canada—or 17.9% of the population—use a smart speaker or voice assistant.

The great thing about voice-assistant technology is how simple it can be to learn since we already use our voices every day. There is no need to learn a new skill; these virtual assistants activate when users speak to the gadget, making it easier to adopt.

There are a few handy tricks that can be added to the voice assistant device to optimize them for seniors. As part of our mission to share senior living resources, we are highlighting ways to customize these devices to support longevity as seniors age.

Connect Voice Assistant to Other Devices

Connecting voice assistants to lights, thermostats, blinds, music, TV, locks, or fans can allow users to turn off devices once safely in bed just by using their voice. Not only does this feature prevent falls, but if the remote, music, or home phone begins to become difficult to use, voice activation devices can change stations or channels for seniors just by speaking allowed. 

There is no longer the need for those aging to grab reading glasses to answer the phone; they can simply ask a voice assistant to pick up a call and put it on speaker from the comfort of their couch.

In fact, seniors can optimize voice assistants even further by setting up a routine for their device. Using trigger sentences like, “Hey Google, good morning,” from their bed, a customized sequence of tasks will be triggered:

  • Turn lights on
  • Turn radio on
  • Open blinds
  • Set the thermostat up to 21° C
  • Medication reminder
  • Weather update
  • News update
  • Alert for any events happening that day

This way, seniors are reminded of important appointments and can set a positive tone for their day. They can even request a ride (via Uber or another rideshare app) through their virtual assistant when alerted or grab a rain jacket if there is a chance of rain on their morning walk.

Some senior living communities have even begun employing these smart speakers in their common areas, allowing residents to go up to one of these devices and learn what is happening for the day.

Sync Helpful Apps

Depending on the voice assistant gadget, they can integrate into other apps like calendars, maps, notes, TV devices, etc. This way, seniors can easily turn on their TV to FaceTime with family, add things to their grocery list, look up birthdays, schedule appointments, use search engines, set alarms or times, make calculations, or look up recipes – all with their voice. No more scrambling for a pen and paper to take down a phone number or finding reading glasses to use a calculator to double a baking recipe; virtual assistants can do it all instantly.

Customize Voice and Volume

One concern may be whether your device understands your accent or soft tone, but luckily voice assistants have customized voice accounts that save your voice, so it is easily recognizable. In addition, if hearing is an issue, there are customizable virtual assistant voices so seniors can pick which one works best for them.

At BCSLA, we strive to provide senior living resources for individuals and families, as well as owners and operators. We encourage you to visit our website for frequently asked questions, blogs, insight, and more.

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