A Victoria-based retirement community is doing a pilot project with the Amazon product Alexa to see if it helps keep seniors engaged. (iStock photo)

B.C. seniors’ home uses voice-activated Alexa in pilot project

The virtual assistant is being used in Victoria to help keep residents engaged

Staff at a Victoria retirement home have been testing the voice-activated assistant Alexa to help keep seniors engaged.

Residents at Berwick Retirement Communities have been testing out the virtual assistant, with reminders to take their medication and what time is dinner.

With a prompt of “Good morning,” Alexa can be programmed to turn the lights on, say the date and time, and give a weather forecast.

“The most important thing for a senior is a purpose to get up and do the day,” said Amir Hemani, chief operations officer of the company, which has locations across B.C.

“We onboard the residents to get into a suite, give them an orientation and demonstrate and lead them with it.”

Most seniors are generally not fluent in technology and don’t own a laptop or iPad, said Hemani, who is part of the Aging 2.0 Vancouver Chapter which helps keep his finger on the pulse for the latest technology and best practices of innovations for seniors.

Some may be visually impaired, have cognitive issues, can’t read, or have reduced mobility. Alexa is completely verbal and programmed for voice-activated requests.

Staff have done three months of testing for one of their visually impaired residents in Victoria, and has put Alexa in common areas of the facility.

If all goes well, Hemani said Alexa would become a standard feature in every suite when people move in. It could be ready as soon as next spring to be used in the newest retirement community being built in Qualicum Beach.

Sylvia Ceacero, CEO of B.C. Seniors Living Association, agrees that the social piece – keeping seniors connected is important.

“For all of us, socializing and networking has a direct influence on our health and well-being,” she said.

While technology offers many benefits, Hemani added, there’s nothing that can replace receiving a hug from a loved one.

“Physical touch is hard to replace from a technology alternative,” he said. “It makes us want to stretch a little further to see how we can help. When things are reduced for our seniors, we need to find out how to bridge the gap.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Gitxaala First Nation elects its first female chief councillor

Linda Innes will lead her community on B.C.’s North Coast for the next three years

Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

BC Wildfire Service assures residents of a proactive plan heading into wildfire season

WEB POLL: Do you support Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act?

Senate hearings held in Prince Rupert and Terrace showed a strong divide over the tanker ban

Northwest B.C. leaders divided over oil tanker ban

Senate hearings in Prince Rupert and Terrace show Bill C-48 is at a crossroads

Northwest entrepreneurs pitch their plans for cash prizes

ThriveNorth announces 12 finalists in this year’s business challenge

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Most Read