Staying in touch when living independently

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Challenge- Your loved one wants to live alone independently, but HOW CAN YOU stay in contact?

  Solution:  The Amazon Echo devices provide an easy to use means through Alexa Communication allowing your loved one to place audio or videos calls to you by a voice command or a tap on the Echo Show screen using “Tap to Alexa”. The calls can be made to your Echo device or your mobile phone.

  

You can also place calls to them which can be answered by a tap on the Echo device or a verbal response. If they are unable to answer, you can utilize a “drop-in” feature whereby they don’t have to respond.


While the Echo audio only devices could be sufficient if your loved one has poor vision and is unable to see the screen, the Echo Show provides a camera at their location enabling you to provide a wellness check.


You can place & receive video and audio calls to your loved one through the Alexa app on your mobile phone.


If you want your loved one to receive normal phone calls to their Echo, you will need to add an Echo Connect and a land line or VoIP. The Echo connect can also handle 911 calls. A second method is to add a paid Skype phone number and the Skype Skill, but without  911 support.

How to get it:

See the Products section for the Echo devices

How it works:

 Echo devices are connected through Wi-Fi to your Amazon account, meaning both you and your loved one need Amazon accounts (non- Prime) and Wi-Fi.


 If your loved one does not have a mobile phone to setup the Alexa Communication , here is a workaround that uses your mobile phone and a free Google voice number to complete installation.

When your loved one needs a simple way to contact you

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Challenge- Your loved one can no longer handle a smartphone or even a Echo voice assistant

Amazon Echo Buttons are large easy to use buttons that can be programmed to use an Echo device to send a text or notification message to you. 

  

You could use large Echo Buttons to trigger an Alexa Routine, but the only means a Routine has to notify a family caregiver is through Notifications. This method requires the receiver of the notification to be logged into the same Alexa account, something that would not meet Alexa Communication requirements of a unique Alexa account and unique phone number.

  

Solution- How to get it:

 See the Products page. Note that Echo Buttons  require an Amazon Echo device and SmartThings requires a hub. IFTTT is a free web based service.

How it works:

Your loved one just needs to tap the button and a fixed text message of your choosing will be sent to your phone. Your loved one will also receive a verbal confirmation that the message was sent. 


First, create your IFTTT and SmartThings accounts

Steps for SmartThings setup using Classic app:

o Tap My Home

o Tap Marketplace

o Tap SmartApps

o Tap + More

o Scroll down to Virtual Device Creator

o Enter a device name for your switch, e.g. “Text Fran”

o Tap Done & Save

o Tap Automation

o Tap SmartApps

o Tap IFTTT

o Tap Which Switches 

o Add “Text Fran”

o Tap Done & Save

o Say “Alexa, Discover”

Steps for IFTTT applet setup

o “IF trigger” is the ST virtual switch Text Fran

o Switch On

o Text Fran

o Create Trigger

o “THAT portion” is Notification or SMS

o ClickSendSMS or Notification

o Enter your message

Steps to add the Amazon Echo buttons:

 1. Install the batteries in the Echo buttons

2. Bring the button near to your Echo device and say “Alexa, setup my Echo button”

3. If you have problems doing this, refer to this information

4. Follow the verbal instructions Alexa provides

5. After you have paired your button(s) …

6. Open your loved one’s Amazon Alexa app on your mobile phone

7. Tap the horizontal 3 bars in the upper left corner

8. Tap “Routines”

9. Tap the “+” in the upper right corner

10. Tap the “+” in the “When this happens”

11. Tap the “Echo button” icon

12. Tap on the physical Echo Button you wish to use

13. Tap the “ADD” button when its presented

14. In your Routine, Tap the “+” under “Add` action”

15. Tap Smart Home

16. Tap Control device

17. Scroll down until you find the “Text Fran” device 

18. When it does show up, tap ADD

19. Leave Power on

20 Tap Next

21. Tap “+” in “Add action” 

22. Tap “Alexa says” and Tap “Custom”

23. Enter the text you want Alexa to speak to your loved one concerning the message being sent… for example “I am notifying Fran that you want her to call you”

24. Tap “+” in “Add action” 

12. Tap Smart Home

26. Tap Control device

27. Scroll down until you find the “Text Fran” 

26. When it does show up, tap ADD

28. Turn Power off

29. Tap “Next & “Done”

30. Tap Save


Be sure to pick the device you want Alexa to speak through


You can now test the Echo Button. On the initial tap it will flash Blue, then turn green when the Alexa Routine receives the button tap… you can let go at that point.

Alexa should speak on the Echo device the confirmation message you entered and send you the text message you created


If necessary, you can place several of these buttons around the home by just creating a Routine for each new button. The “add action” part can remain the same.


Please note that the Routines are named by the name of the Echo button for example… “EchoBtn4N2”