Written by Emily Ryan

Until recently, Personal Virtual Assistants (PVAs) were the preserve of those with a high level of disposable income who love to own the latest gadgets and gizmos. What couldn’t have been predicted though, was the positive impact these PVA’s could have on people with mobility or accessibility issues around the home.

One recent development in this line of gadgets has been the Amazon’s own version of the personal assistant, the ‘Echo’ and it’s personable PVA ‘Alexa’. Both affordable, accessible the possibilities are endless when it comes to independent living.

The device has gained support among elderly adults as well as their families and caregivers with more than 30,000 customer reviews on Amazon praising the Alexa for its ability to assist. The reviews discuss how Alexa has given them a sense of independence and freedom that was once thought to be impossible.

We’ve spoken to the independent living experts over at Ability Superstore about just how some of their customers have made use of the Amazon Echo device, and how it has allowed some of their customers to live more independently as a result.

How the Alexa can help combat loneliness

As well as being practical, Alexa can help to alleviate the pain of loneliness in older adults. In the elderly community, loneliness can be the difference between good health and poor health. Alexa attempts to provide as much assistance and companionship as possible through its voice activation controls, as well as being able to connect with other internet users through communication software such as Skype.

The Amazon echo is a fantastic piece of technology that sits neatly on your table without causing too much clutter or without clashing with any decor. One specific feature of the echo is that it can connect to your devices such as your radio and your tv. From here, you can talk to your echo and command it to control these devices. Imagine being able to just ‘call out’ to Alexa to instantly find out information about your local neighbourhood, rather than having to use a fiddly timetable?

The additional features of Alexa

Additional features include being able to gather information, read the news, listen to music, check for sport scores, add an alarm or even check the weather. It’s a fantastic assistant that is available to you whenever you need it. Not only that, but with its voice command, there’s no need for handheld controls. To ‘wake up’ your device, simply call out the name “Alexa”. Once activated, the virtual assistant will ‘wake up’ and listen to your commands.

This is particularly handy for those who have trouble navigating around the house or if you tend to lose remotes fairly often! Your Alexa is in the room with you as far as your voice can travel. Once set up the Alexa couldn’t be easier to use making it ideal for even the biggest technophobes.

Help aids such as Alexa are a brilliant way to ease you into retirement. The possibilities are endless with Alexa – you can with send emails and text messages, update your Facebook and communicate with the grandchildren through Skype – you can even do your weekly shop through its voice activation!

Alexa isn’t just an aid for the disabled or the elderly it’s a tool that many people both old and young can use in their day to day lives. So don’t see it as an object of defeat – see it as an object which can help liberate your life and improve your everyday independence.


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