Senior care is extremely demanding and many people struggle to balance taking care of seniors with all the other aspects of their lives. What makes this especially difficult is that, often, you need to leave a loved-one alone but are fearful that they may fall sick, or need urgent attention and not be able to communicate with you or seek help. Hiring nurses can be very expensive and many people do not wish to spend their later years in an old age home. Amazon’s new “Care Hub” promises to help balance the scales by allowing caregivers to monitor the elderly.
TechCrunch discusses this timely innovation. Amazon added the “Care Hub” option to Alexa, announcing that Care Hub would enhance remote caregiving by providing an option to check-in on seniors, and receive alerts and activity feeds, while also protecting the privacy of those seniors.
To use Care Hub, you have to create a connection between your Alexa account and the senior’s. Once the connection is established, you will receive alerts about your loved one’s activities. In the event that a long period goes without any activity being detected, you can call using the app, to check-in on them. If help is needed, your loved one can use the help command to call for help and Alexa will call, text, and send a push notification to alert you.
Alexa has already been used in senior living centers and other care facilities, by way of third-party providers. It is not hard to see why there would be such a great demand for something like CareHub.
The high levels of privacy protection hit against the fact that older people tend to avoid using technology and the steps that older people need to take to secure their privacy, though seemingly simple, are difficult to execute or monitor. So a family member could surreptitiously set up the Care Hub system and the older family member would likely not be able to see that. One tweak that should be considered is having Alexa periodically check with the care receiver to see if they want to continue to be monitored, or if they are happy with the service.
It would be, as TechCrunch notes, safer to have Alexa periodically ask if the ageing family member was happy with Care Hub monitoring them and to inform them if the monitoring option was still open. This is not to suggest that all users of Care Hub use it for nefarious purposes, rather, it is to suggest that more attention should be paid to the specific vulnerabilities of the elderly. Clearly there is a big demand for Care Hub. Amazon developed Care Hub after receiving feedback from customers who wanted to use Alexa’s voice assistant to monitor seniors in their care. With more and more seniors wanting to remain home in their retirement years, their care receivers were eager for a tool that would allow them the freedom to go about their daily activities, perhaps leaving their seniors with senior adult day care, without compromising their responsibilities. The demand for assistive technology is so big that it has grown to a $30 billion market.