Amazon Echo a Game Changer for These Older Adults

Sept. 25, 2018 The Admiral at the Lake may be one of the first retirement communities in the U.S. to widely deploy Amazon Echo voice-recognition devices for its residents. The community is offering the Alexa-enabled devices for free for use in all 200 apartments of its independent living residents beginning in October.

“This deployment will be accompanied by what may be the most extensive research to date exploring how voice-recognition technology can impact the lives of older adults,” says Akintunde Littlejohn, The Admiral’s Information Technology Director. “The devices will be preloaded with custom communication tools and community information, like menus and listings of events.”

When it surveyed its residents in January, the 31-story continuing care retirement community on Chicago’s lakefront found that 10 percent of its independent living residents had already purchased smart speakers on their own. Littlejohn says those early adapters are using voice-recognition technology to compensate for vision and mobility limitations.

“One resident is completely blind and says he can’t imagine life without his two Echo devices. Another resident was able to call for help using his Echo after he fell out of his wheelchair. We are not looking at this as pilot, or a test,” Littlejohn says. “We see value in this technology today and are going all in. This technology works! We just want to measure how well and be more intentional about features that make life easier for older adults.”

The Admiral plans to study the impact of the devices by collecting as many as 100 data points, including the number of times residents interact with Alexa and the impact on the community’s internet bandwidth usage. The metrics will be both quantitative and qualitative.

“We are constantly examining ways to enhance the care of residents and be more attentive to their needs,” says The Admiral’s CEO Nadia Geigler. “This study supports that goal and could also have value to our field as a whole. We believe that technology not only supports the work we do but should be leveraged as a driver for providing better quality care to older adults.”

About The Admiral at the Lake

The Admiral at the Lake is a nonprofit, full-service life care community affiliated with Kendal. Located on 2.8 acres at the corner of Foster Avenue and Marine Drive, on the North shore of Lake Michigan, The Admiral is just 400 steps from the beach and 10 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. The Admiral at the Lake offers one-, two- and three-bedroom independent living apartments, assisted living apartments, memory support residences and private skilled nursing suites, including short-term rehabilitation.

About Kendal

Founded on Quaker principles and guided by its Values and Practices, Kendal provides independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation care in eight states. Kendal-affiliated retirement communities are located in Hanover, New Hampshire; Ithaca and Sleepy Hollow, New York; Northampton and Easthampton, Massachusetts; Lexington, Virginia; metro Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Kennett Square, West Chester and Newtown, Pennsylvania; and Oberlin and Granville, Ohio. Kendal at Home, based in suburban Cleveland, combines the security of a continuing care retirement community with the freedom and independence of living at home.