By Rick Phelps
I have had a new product for about a week now and wanted to share with you how much it helps me. It is called the Amazon Echo. Before I tell you about the device itself, let me tell you what it does for me. I can answer this with one question: What day is it?
I ask Phyllis June this one question constantly, which you have probably heard me mention before. Dementia has prevented me from keeping track of the date, among many other things.
“So what?” you may ask. “What do you have to do that is so pressing you need to know what day it is?” The answer to this is, I don't have anything pressing to do. However, since we were young children, everything we do depends on knowing what day it is or what time it is. Most people do not realize this because knowing what day it is comes naturally to most everyone.
Not knowing is not natural, and it can be very unsettling.
This is where this phenomenal little device comes in. Alexa is the “wake word” for my Echo device. A “wake word” activates the device so that you can use it hands-free. Once turned on, Echo listens to what is being said constantly. It also listens for its “wake word” from you in order to answer any questions you ask it.
You can change the "wake word" to either Echo or Amazon, or simply leave it as Alexa.
“Alexa, what day is it?”
“Alexa, what time is it?”
“Alexa, is it going to rain?”
“Alexa, how many teaspoons are in a cup?”
“Alexa, set an alarm for 7:00 AM every day but Saturday.”
“Alexa, what time is Andy Griffith on tonight?”
“Alexa, what is my wife's phone number?”
“Alexa, how many days are there until Christmas?”
“Alexa, what is 345 x 37?”
“Alexa how far is it to Walmart?”
“Alexa, set a timer for ten minutes.”
You can ask this device anything. It only needs wifi to operate, and it processes and delivers answers in mere seconds. They are accurate, too. I have yet to trip this thing up.
“Alexa, remind me to take my medicine at 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM every day.”
Once you tell Alexa to do this, it will indeed remind you twice daily to take your medicine.
It can also play any music you want. This comes from the "cloud" that Amazon uses. Say your loved one loves an artist that you don't have any recordings of. No problem.
What about reading a book for you? It can do this also. All you need to do is have your desired book on audio. I only buy audio books these days since I can no longer read. Echo’s ability to read to me alone makes this thing worth its weight in gold to me.
“Alexa, play ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra.”
“Alexa, add paper towels to my shopping list.”
“Alexa, read the Bible.”
To many, the Amazon Echo is simply a cool thing to have; just another nifty electronic gadget. But to a dementia patient, it is much more than that.
It has afforded me something that I have lost: my memory. I can ask Alexa anything and I get the answer instantly. I can also ask it what day it is 20 times each day, and I will still get the same correct answer. (It also doesn’t get annoyed with me.)
The item sells for $179.00. Considering what this device does for me, I think it’s priceless.
I am not in the business of promoting items, and I have said this over and over. Over the years, I have been asked to promote certain things only because of my access to caregivers and dementia patients.
But, this item is indeed a miracle for me. I am writing a letter to Amazon about what this thing can do for a dementia patient. In the hundreds of reviews I have read and videos I have watched, they never mention using this product for a dementia patient.
I would never steer you wrong. Like I said, this item isn't cheap, and it does not look like it either. It weighs about three pounds and is very well built.
To get it to work, you simply plug it in and connect it to your wifi network. Once you've done that, you are ready to go. You can also add additional apps to the device to enhance its capabilities even further. There are countless possibilities for the Echo to help caregivers stay organized as well.
I hope you see the potential this thing has for you and your loved one. This obviously would not be something for someone in the later stages of the disease who has trouble speaking. But if you have a loved one who is repeatedly asking you the same questions, this may be the ticket. All they need to remember is their “wake word,” Alexa, Amazon or Echo.