Technology isn’t just for kids anymore; seniors are embracing digital life in a big way, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Older adults have flocked to Facebook, for example, to chat with others, share photos of grandkids and catch up with friends they don’t get to see in person anymore. According to a 2021 Pew Research poll, 75% of those 65 and over are internet users, so whether it’s for social media, shopping or reading the news, seniors are everywhere online.
When it comes to more hands-on tech, seniors can sometimes be a little less enthusiastic. Smartphones aren’t as popular among the 65+ crowd (only 61% report using one), and laptops, desktops and even tablets aren’t much more popular than smartphones among seniors.
Smart speakers may seem intimidating to seniors who aren’t as tech-savvy as their 20- and 30-something grandkids, but smart speakers have a lot to offer seniors that can make their lives easier and more comfortable. The currently available smart speakers and voice-activated systems can also be beneficial for those who are vision-impaired or have mobility challenges.
Smart speakers have a lot to offer seniors that can make their lives easier and more comfortable.
Depending on which type of smart speaker you choose for your older adult (with their help, of course), some of the available tools they offer include:
- Multiple alarms for medication and other reminders
- Voice command on-off for lights, TVs and other electronics (if they’re Wi-Fi connected)
- On-demand music with curated playlists
- Weather reports
- News updates from favorite sources
- Voice and video calling
- Photo carousels for continuous viewing and photo sharing
- Shopping on websites
- And many more
Parks Associates found that 34% of those 65 and over have a smart speaker in their home, and as the technology gets more accessible and more user-friendly, that number will continue to grow. In addition, seniors and their caregivers may find a smart speaker (or two) can make their lives much easier and make communication with each other and family and friends more accessible. Plus, having easily accessible music to play is always an excellent idea!
Which smart speaker is best for your senior?
Once your older adult grows comfortable with a smart speaker, they’ll ask it many questions they may ask you each day. For example, they can decide if it’s cool enough outside to bring a sweater when you take them to the drugstore, or they can find out what episode of their favorite show is on that evening. They can say, “Call my daughter,” instead of asking you to do it, or they can make a grocery list you can later read or have read aloud to you before you go to the store. In short, a smart speaker will be good for your senior, but it will be helpful to you as well.
Best low-cost smart speaker for Amazon users
The Amazon Echo (4th Gen) does many things, but not everything. For example, if everyone in the family doesn’t have an Echo device or the Alexa app, the Echo can’t call them. But other than that, the Echo is a handy smart speaker. It plays any music your senior could want, reads the news, gives weather reports, and can be used to turn on and off smart devices in the home.
Best higher-priced smart speaker for Amazon users
The Echo Show 10 has a photo gallery for family pictures, video and voice calling, and a built-in security camera so family members and caregivers can check on their loved one if they have concerns about their well-being. Also, caregivers will appreciate the access to thousands of recipes if they’re cooking meals.
Best sound quality
Music lovers will appreciate the crystal-clear sound quality of the Sonos smart speakers. They can be used together in one room to enhance the audio or in separate rooms when needed. In addition to the excellent sound system, the Sonos smart speakers have all the voice-command features of Amazon smart speakers.
Best smart speaker with screen for Google users
The Nest home security system is used in many homes, so a Nest Hub Max is a good choice for those customers. Seniors can answer their door using their voice if they prefer not to open it when they’re home alone, and the Nest is fully integrated with YouTube for video watchers. The facial recognition system means caregivers can get notifications just for them, as can older adults. One bonus: The screen is big enough to enjoy a Netflix movie.
The easiest smart speaker for Apple product users
The most colorful options are available in the Apple Home Pod Mini. Seniors can answer their iPhones on these tiny (3.3” tall) smart speakers and can ask for specific music choices with Siri commands. Home security and Wi-Fi-enabled products are easily managed through the Apple Mini. If you buy two, you can create stereo sound in a room or use them as intercom systems so seniors can communicate if they’re in their bedroom and their caregiver is doing something elsewhere.