Hometown Focus reports…
Access North Center for Independent Living equipped the homes of about 12 senior citizens with new technology that allows them to remain in their homes longer, have added safety features, and be socially connected to family and friends. The outreach was part of Blandin Foundation’s broadband initiative and funded in part by Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.
For seniors whose failing vision makes it difficult to see the number buttons on a telephone, Echo Show and Alexa gives them voice command capability to dial contacts for them. They can command Alexa to call their health care provider or family member, and Echo Show dials the contact programmed in their phone. With Echo Spot seniors can live video chat with family and friends across the world. Alexa and Alexa Fire allows seniors to command their TVs to turn on or off, adjust the volume and change channels.
Seniors have also been provided Phillips Hue lighting that is controlled by Alexa voice command. It allows them to safely turn on and off lights using their voice without physically getting up in the dark and risking a trip or fall. Other devices such as a Nest thermostat and Ring doorbell have added extra security and safety in homes. Seniors can control temperature settings in their homes and see on their phone who is at their door before opening it.
“Most seniors prefer to remain in their homes as long as possible and want to avoid unnecessary or premature nursing home placement,” said Don Brunette, Access North executive director. “We used the broadband grant money to provide and install products, services and conveniences to allow them to do so. Some homes received new routers to make their broadband connectivity more robust to support the new devices.”