As society becomes more technology-focused, many of today’s senior adults are turning to virtual assistants to help them easily transition into retirement. Because of their positive impact on the lives of seniors, virtual assistants are in use more commonly by adults older than 60 than in adults aged 18 to 29 years.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants are digital applications that provide services to clients remotely, often through voice-activated commands.
Some examples of what virtual assistants can do include:
- In the event of home downsizing or relocation, virtual assistants can help arrange real estate showings or consultations with adult-living residences.
- If you need assistance with your banking, virtual assistants can arrange appointments or consultations with your financial services providers.
- If you are in need of estate planning, virtual assistants can arrange meetings with lawyers and notaries and remind you of your appointments.
- Virtual assistants can even turn lights on and off on certain schedules or remind you to take an umbrella if there is rain in the forecast.
What Can It Be Used For?
Depending on your needs, virtual assistants offer a wide range of services catered to your particular lifestyle. For seniors, virtual assistants can help perform tasks, such as:
- Scheduling doctor’s appointments;
- Arranging travel;
- Keeping up-to-date on medications and refills;
- Answering any questions that user may have, and;
- Ensuring user safety through monitoring alarm or emergency alert systems.
Furthermore, virtual assistants can be very helpful for seniors with visual impairment.
Some other uses for virtual assistants include:
Virtual assistants can be music to your ears. With access to the internet and applications like Spotify, millions of songs are at your command. Through a virtual assistant, you can ask for your device to play songs based on title, artist, genre, or even the time of day.
In addition, seniors with mood disorders like anxiety and depression or cognitive limitations such as dementia can greatly benefit from a wide variety of music.
Maintaining a Schedule
As your life as a senior becomes occupied with activity and recreation, a virtual assistant can be the ideal way to keep your schedule in check.
You can have your virtual assistant wake you up in the morning to your favorite music. Throughout the day, your virtual assistant can remind you about your planned activity at the senior’s club or call a taxi for you. In the evenings, a virtual assistant can turn your television on to your favorite program or even turn off the lights when you’re ready to go to sleep.
Ensure Physical Activity
Physical fitness is an essential part of getting older. Better yet, virtual assistants can help make it easier for seniors to get the exercise they need every day.
From wake-up alarms to get you up and out of bed to scheduled reminders to take a walk or get to your favorite workout class, virtual assistants can help you to maintain a healthy body and active spirit. Virtual assistants can also find workout videos online that suit your interests, current level of fitness, and future goals.
Maintain Connections with Family and Friends
One of the most impactful benefits to seniors who use virtual assistants is maintaining a connection to the people they love.
For many seniors, life has scattered friends and relatives across the country. With video chat software such as Zoom, virtual assistants can help you keep in touch with the people most important to you. Connecting to family and friends on a regular basis has been shown to greatly benefit seniors by improving their mood and increasing their vitality.
Common Questions and Issues
How Does a Virtual Assistant Work?
In order to access the services provided by a virtual assistant, you first need to choose the device you would like to use. Common devices include:
- Google Home speaker;
- Any Apple device, and;
- Amazon Echo.
The passive-listening feature of these devices means that it “wakes up” after a voice command when you’re ready to use it. Once it’s awake and actively listening, simply speak to it like you would an assistant and it will help you navigate daily tasks like banking.
In addition to having a device or virtual assistant application, you need internet access. Virtual assistants use the internet to gather information and connect to other applications whenever you give it a voice command. You could ask it to check the weather, remind you of what medications you need to take, or put an upcoming appointment in your online calendar.
I’m Worried About My Personal Information. Could a Hacker Steal My Information?
While it is possible for hackers to steal any information that is available online, virtual assistants are equipped with specialized data and information security measures to protect your information from potential threats. Additional security measures include using secure passwords or multi-factor authentication.
Why Isn’t My Assistant Understanding My Speech?
In order for the virtual assistant to recognize your speech, it first needs to be activated by saying the activation prompt — usually something like “wake up”.
When you begin speaking, the virtual assistant will let you know if it is unable to understand your question or command. The assistant may have difficulty understanding your command if you speak too quietly, too quickly, or if your speech isn’t clear.
If you encounter difficulties with your virtual assistant recognizing your voice, try slowing down your speech, speaking more clearly, and reducing any unnecessary background noise.
The technology of virtual assistants is continually evolving. Today, the use of virtual assistant devices and applications are benefiting seniors all over the world. Studies have shown that virtual assistants can benefit seniors by engaging them with technology, challenging their cognitive abilities, and empowering them stay informed of news and current events.
From ensuring regular contact with family and friends to knowing that your medications are being taken at the right time, a virtual assistant can bring peace of mind as you settle into your golden years.