Isolation among seniors is a problem. According to a study by the University of California, San Francisco, 18% of seniors live alone, and lonely adults are more likely to die faster. Thankfully, new voice activation technology can help.
Why are aging adults lonely?
Older adults often have issues driving or accessing transportation, which leaves them trapped at home. Mobility impairments also limit what types of activities they can participate in. The loss of loved ones often leaves adults alone, and ultimately limits daily social interactions causing feelings of isolation.
How voice activation technology helps isolated seniors:
- Recalling Memories– Digital personal assistants access the internet in order to answer questions. For example, an adult can ask Microsoft’s Cortana what happened on a certain day in history and the device will answer. This helps seniors that are alone to feel less isolated because they are engaging in some sort of conversation. Recalling history can also spark positive memories in adults, making them feel less lonely.
- Phone Calls- The new Amazon Echo, released at the end of September, has the ability to make phone calls to anyone. This can further connect seniors living alone to their family and friends. Now, without picking up a telephone, Alexa can call family members for you. Socialization, even if over the phone, is very valuable for making people not feel isolated.
- Upcoming Events- Voice activation technology enables seniors to stay in the loop with community events around them. For example, Apple’s new HomePod featuring digital assistant Siri, can provide information on local movie times or fun occasions in the area. This ensures adults know what is going on around them so they can make arrangements to attend.
- Email Access- Because voice recognition software has internet capabilities, it can send emails and interact with people on social media as the user wishes. Social media use among seniors is rising, and through devices like Microsoft’s Cortana, they can combat loneliness by interacting with friends and family on social platforms.
- Digital Companion- It is inevitable for adults to feel lonely as they age, but voice activation technology can provide solace in times of isolation. This technology forces people to speak, which might not happen regularly for seniors living alone. Amazon is working to give Alexa personality and a more natural sounding voice. This causes people to feel like Alexa is more of a companion than a piece of technology.
Engaging adults in social interactions is difficult due to many constraints, but voice recognition software may be the answer. From providing a way to call family and friends, use social media and stay updated with local events, this technology can prevent seniors from feeling alone. It also forces people to speak and the device replies, which creates the sense that they are not isolated.