Diane: Our friend Alexa has changed our lives

11 Mar 2020

John, who has been living with dementia for 7 years, is cared for by his daughter, Diane. They have both learnt how to use digital technology to remind him to take his medication and attend essential appointments.

John and Diane have lived together since he became housebound with mobility issues and other long term conditions. He has low communication skills and finds it hard to get involved in conversations.

She says: “Life has changed completely for me since my dad was diagnosed and I became his full time carer. I left a full-time job, gave up a relationship and have dealt with massive financial pressures since then.”

Before introducing Alexa into her home Diane needed to set over 20 reminders and alarms on her phone prompting her to remind John to take his tablets and complete daily exercises. If she was away from the house for any reason she would have to find a quiet place to call him and remind him to take them, and then call after to check he had taken them. John takes 17 tablets a day.

Diane had basic digital skills and could navigate social media but mainly used digital technology to remind her Dad to take his medication.

Following another carer’s recommendation, she installed the Alexa in their home.

She has programmed all of his medication, exercise and appointment reminders into the Alexa app so it now reminds her Dad to do these daily routines. Diane has personalised the reminders so Alexa will ask him 5 minutes after each reminder if he has taken them.

She says: “I can’t tell you how great it is. I don’t feel like a broken record anymore because I can talk to my dad and chat about other things other than just asking him to do these tasks all day. When I speak to him he can be chatting about a memory or we can laugh about something on the TV. Using these reminders and features of Alexa has been life-changing.”

John interacts with Alexa and likes asking her questions. He has very rarely spoken or communicated as much as he does now. He says he “likes her voice” and she “feels like a friend.”

Diane has also programmed personalised bedtime reminders into Alexa that make him smile. Diane says: “He really likes hearing them and he always says night night back to her.”

She continues: “Seeing my dad happier and enjoying his days so much more now since Alexa came into our lives has made me so much happier. Before we trialled the Alexa my dad was very low and was worrying me with his low moods. He was sad for long periods of time each day and it upset me to see him like this. But now he uses Alexa to listen to music and lots of other things. Having her speaking to him throughout the day, with phrases I’ve programmed in for her to say, has made a massive difference to his mindset.

It makes me so emotional to think how much it’s changed his life and mine. It’s life-changing and I can’t imagine our lives without it”.