image of three seniors on their smartphonesSeniors and smartphones can be a powerful partnership when the phone features one of the several digital personal assistants (DPAs) now available to answer questions and provide information about all sorts of things – from where to go to when to do something.

Siri, of course, is the popular voice-in-the-cloud personal assistant app on Apple iPhones, but it’s not the only one available. Android smartphones have Cortana (as do Windows products), Google Now, and others. Amazon offers the stand-alone Alexa. Just about every smartphone available today has some voice-supported artificial intelligence app that consumers are finding increasingly useful for everyday tasks. And that includes seniors.

Some of the biggest tech companies in the world have been investing an overwhelming amount of resources into AI and virtual assistant software like Siri. These programs are designed to recognize voice commands before accessing a database of information. Users can ask random questions and get an immediate voice response from authoritative websites and journals.

Siri has become a best friend to many seniors, thanks to a simple user interface. With a few common commands, seniors are discovering the comfort and convenience that comes when you have a digital friend you can always rely on.

Here are just a few ways Siri and other DPAs can help make daily tasks easier and more enjoyable for seniors:

Set alarms
Fumbling around with the buttons of an alarm clock or figuring out how to manually set your phone to go off at a desired time can be tough. Thanks to Siri, you just tell her when you need your alarm to go off, and she’ll take care of the rest.

Provide medication reminders
Forgetting to take medication can lead to big problems. Unfortunately, as we age, this can often become a common occurrence. Siri can remind seniors to take their medication — just set it and forget it. When it’s time to take a daily dose, she’ll say something.

Read emails 
If your loved one has trouble seeing a computer screen, reading emails and keeping in touch with family and friends can be a cumbersome and frustrating task. By telling Siri to read emails, seniors can avoid squinting and headaches and instead just relax and listen to Siri read messages from friends and family.

Send messages
Siri makes it possible to send messages to the people in a contact list without fumbling through the phone book or trying to compose the text.

Create shopping lists

It’s easy to forget things as we age, but keeping up with the grocery list is much easier when you just tell Siri what to add. With a DPA such as Siri or Cortana, a shopping list will be ready and waiting when your senior gets to the store. If someone else does their shopping, the list can simply be sent to them or shared for easy access.

These are just some of the ways a digital personal assistant such as Siri can be an everyday help to the elderly. But just as important – maybe even more so, for some – is the companionship the friendly voice can provide. Ask Siri to tell a story or a joke, play music, or answer a silly question just to hear the response. These are all interactive things that Siri and her other DPA friends can do to help seniors not only cope but find comfort in a warm voice.

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