Thank You Alexa, for Everything

As I mentioned in my previous post, Amazon Alexa has been a key component in my survival toolkit while I battle Early Onset Alzheimers. I am a techie so being able to utilize this digital assistant to it’s full capabilities has not been that difficult for me. At first my husband thought that using Alexa was ridiculous but now he sees how it is incredibly useful for both of us. Here are some ways we use Alexa in our home and daily life:

Reminders: You are able to have Alexa set reminders for you. Some of the reminders I have her perform for me are my daily medicines, take out the garbage, when important birthdays are coming up, if I need to do something on a certain day, etc. Just say “Alexa, remind me ……”

Remember: You can tell Alexa to remember where you put things. I tell Alexa to remember where I put my car keys, and anything else I am worried I will forget where I put it. Just say “Alexa, remember that I put ……”. If my husband is going to be gone, and he wants to make sure I know to do something, he just tells Alexa to remind me. I have learned that I have to do it pretty quickly or I will forget to do it, but right now it’s working for me. I also use Tiles on many of my important things like car keys, suitcases, etc which will help me locate them if I lose them (you can read my post about how I use Tiles)!

Checklists: Using the Alexa skills blueprint function, you can create checklists using their task tracker option. For example I have a morning checklist, a golf checklist of the items I remember to take to golf, and a smoothie checklist with all the ingredients I put in my smoothie, and packing checklists for when we go on vacation. To find out more about how to set these up go to Amazon Blueprints. For example, every morning, I ask Alexa “What’s my morning checklist”. She responds by saying: Take your medicine, take your MCT oil, check your calendar”.

Calendar: You can ask Alexa to check your calendar and she will read you your appointments you have for the day.

Turn your home into a start home: You can set up Alexa to turn on your iRobot vacuum, modify your temperature of your home using your Smart Thermostat, and control your lights if you have Alexa enabled lightbulbs. My entire house is Smart House and although it takes time to get used to it we have found it to be very convenient. In an effort to ensure I don’t forget the commands, I have created little cheat sheets that we keep by each device in the event we can’t remember how to do it. We rarely use them.

Organize Your Entire Household Contents: The most helpful feature that my husband and I have found invaluable is using the Amazon Blueprint feature (specifically the Custom Q&A feature) to organize our home. We use this several times a day. Here is how I do it:

  • I log into my Amazon Blueprints
  • Click on Custom Q&A
  • Organize all my household items into boxes labeled A-Z, or drawers
  • Enter the contents of each box or drawer into “Custom Q&A”. For example: “Where is the heating pad”. Then write the answer” in Box D” in the garage”.
  • Then when you need to find something I just say: Alexa, where is my snorkeling equipment (for example”. She will reply “it is in the garage in box F”.
  • You can add to your Custom Q&A list or modify it at any time.

Thanks to Alexa, my husband and I no longer spend time looking for our stuff, because all we have to do is ask Alexa and she will tell us. Also, we have gotten good at telling Alexa to remind us instead of telling each other to remind each other to do something, because it’s very likely we won’t remember to do it.

My husband keeps joking that when my memory deteriorates to a point, that I won’t be able to keep all this technology going he is going to be in trouble, but quite frankly now that it is all set up its very easy to maintain. Alexa has been a great coping strategy for me especially on days when my memory is bad and it makes me feel more confident that I will be able to be self sufficient quite a bit longer.

If you don’t already have an Amazon Alexa you should consider getting one. If your not using yours to its full extent, you should learn to do so. Right now, during this self distancing phase would be a great time in investing in getting Alexa up and running for you and get your house organized.

Not today, Alzheimer’s , not today!

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