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Amazon’s Echo and Dot have been featured in a lot of articles about cool, futuristic, smart home tech, but these devices aren’t just for showing off. Alexa powered devices can help aging and disabled family members in many practical ways.

 

 

For Those Struggling With Dementia

When memory begins to slip away, it’s a frustrating and sometimes humiliating thing for dementia sufferers. Alexa can step in to serve dementia patients’ needs while letting them keep their dignity.

 

Alexa will always answer basic questions cheerfully, and will never make anyone feel embarrassed about asking.
Dementia sufferers may forget simple things like what day or month it is, and need to ask caretakers those same questions over and over again. Often, sufferers won’t get the answers they need because they feel embarrassed, or get a sense that their caretaker is losing patience with them.

Alexa is always ready to answer those questions and will never tire of hearing them. Also, since Alexa isn’t a human caregiver, no one needs to feel self-conscious about asking her a question she may have answered just seconds ago.

 

Alexa can remember events, important facts and dates FOR them.
One of the most heartbreaking things for dementia patients is losing track of their grandchildren’s birthdays, ages and progress in school, especially if the patient particularly cherishes marking those special milestones. Here again, Alexa can step in to offer some support.

A family member can set up a Google Calendar account for the patient and link it to the Echo or Dot in the Alexa app. Google Calendar is free, and anyone who has a free Gmail account also gets a Google Calendar bundled with it. Click here for Amazon’s help topic about using Google Calendar with Alexa (UK visitors click here).

Once it’s all set up, the family member can add birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other important occasions to the calendar. The dementia patient only has to ask Alexa, “What’s on my calendar today?” or “What’s on my calendar this week?” to stay up to date.

 

 

Caregivers can keep a watchful eye from a distance via the Alexa app.
Dementia patients are sometimes too proud to let loved ones or caregivers know when they need help, or may worry about being a burden. With Alexa and the Alexa app acting as the go-between, it’s possible for loved ones and caregivers to keep tabs on the patient without relying on the patient him- or herself to provide updates: it’s as easy as monitoring the History shown in the Alexa app.

If History shows substantial activity in the wee hours, caregivers know the patient is struggling with insomnia. A dementia sufferer who’s always loved listening to audiobooks in the afternoon and suddenly stops may be feeling depressed, or experiencing some other kind of change caregivers will need to investigate.

 

Alexa can provide assistance, entertainment and even a kind of companionship.
I just mentioned audiobooks, but did you know Audible has many full-cast recordings (UK visitors click here) and radio dramas (UK visitors click here) available too? Alexa can also play music of course, and tune in to favorite radio stations from around the world.

The Flash Briefing has many sources of information, and can become a daily ritual that helps patients who might otherwise feel isolated keep up to date with what’s going on in the world.

Alexa can handle timers and alarms—and these can be set remotely by caregivers via the Alexa app too, so the patient doesn’t have to worry about forgetting to set them.

The dementia patient can add needed items to the grocery list so designated caregivers will know what to pick up for them by checking the Alexa mobile app. The shopping list provides another monitoring opportunity as well, since it will be apparent if the patient is forgetting to ask for needed items that could be past their expiration dates for safe consumption, or if the patient is adding the same items to the list repeatedly in a single day.

Then there are skills. So many skills! From baseball trivia to geography quizzes, there’s something to keep every mind active. Caregivers will want to enable a limited number of skills at a time, leave a written reminder of the invocation phrases for each near the Echo or Dot, and regularly rotate the skills by disabling those previously used and enabling new ones.

Finally, however limited her interactions may be, Alexa is a friendly voice that’s always there, never loses her patience, and is always ready to help. Sometimes just that is enough to help a dementia patient feel a little less lonely and a little more secure.

 

Also see: How Echo Can Help Care For Aging Or Disabled Family Members. Everything in the article is equally applicable to the Echo Dot device.

 

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The Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3 Next Generation Ultra Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is portable, water resistant, currently has an average review rating of 4.5/5 stars across over 11,500 reviews and normally sells for $99.99, but right now (as of 11/22/16) it’s available for just $27.99.

Advertisements make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content for free, so thanks for your support.

 

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Fire Tablet Tip of the Week: Where To Find Kindle First Books Each Month

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Welcome To Digital Media Mom’s 11/21/16 Music Monday!
I’ve got two free New Age instrumental albums from Vyking today.

The first album is Reign!.

 

The second is the more recent release Message.

 

Both albums can be described as instrumental New Age, with a good mix of upbeat electronic numbers and more contemplative pieces where a piano takes center stage. Both albums are currently rated 4.5/5 stars or higher, and would make a nice background soundtrack for any setting or activity where you’d like some music that’s pleasant, but not too distracting.

 

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Why not give the gift of Alexa this holiday season? At about $50 each and with discounts when you buy multi-packs, the Echo Dot (UK visitors click here) is an affordable way to help family and friends get started with smart home. It’s easy for gift recipients to expand their smart home setup as much or as little as they like going forward.

This week, Amazon’s running a special deal in for U.S. customers: get $20 off when you buy three Dots by entering discount code DOT3PACK at checkout. Both UK and US customers can also take advantage of Amazon’s ongoing buy six, get one free offer using discount code DOT6PACK.

Advertisements make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content for free, so thanks for your support.

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Fire Tablet Tip of the Week: Where To Find Kindle First Books Each Month

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FreebieFriday for 11/18/16: Apps

Posted November 17, 2016 By Mom
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Welcome to Digital Media Mom’s FreebieFriday for 11/18/16!
Here are ten of the most downloaded AND highest-rated apps (4/5 stars or better) from Amazon’s Android App Store as of this writing. Remember that free apps may include in-app purchase (IAP) options or be ad-supported, but given that these apps have been given very high ratings by MANY consumers, where IAP links or ads are present they must be pretty unobtrusive. Descriptions below are from the apps’ product pages.

 

 

Magic 2015 – Wizards of the Coast’s hugely popular card battle game, in app form.

Hidden Object: Blackstone Mysteries – Become an ace detective and investigate puzzling mysteries in an exciting new hidden object game!

Zombie Road Trip – In Zombie Road Trip the rules are simple – escape the zombie horde or have your brain eaten. Are you up for the challenge?

Casino Joy Video Slots – Start your journey to gaming joy with Casino Joy: Video Slots! $1,000,000 STARTING CREDIT!

 

 

Mahjong Titan – Mahjong Solitaire Titan is a free mahjong matching game. This premium quality game is your perfect match for playing some relaxing Mahjong.

Codeword Unlimited Free – Crossword puzzles you solve like logic puzzles.

Intuitive Life Coaching Oracle Cards – Intuitive Life Coaching Oracle Cards offer you guidance in regard to any daily issue or emotional challenge you may be facing.

 

 

Collapse! Blast – Our popular Facebook puzzle game, Collapse! Blast is now available for Android.

Diamond Dash – 60 action packed seconds to match as many colorful diamonds as possible.

Plant Nanny – Plant Nanny combines health with fun to remind you to drink water regularly. The cute plant keeps you company every day by living in your [device]. In order to keep it alive and help it grow, you must give it water at certain periods of time.

 

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The Anker® 2nd Gen Astro Mini 3200mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank is handy to have on hand for those times when your cell phone or tablet battery’s about to die and there isn’t an outlet in sight. It has an average review rating of 4.5/5 stars across over 23,700 reviews and normally sells for $39.99, but right now it’s available for just $12.99. Makes a perfect stocking stuffer, Secret Santa gift, or ‘just a little something’ holiday gift for teachers, friends, and service providers. Available in your choice of five colors.

Advertisements make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content for free, so thanks for your support.

 

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Fire Tablet Tip of the Week: Where To Find Kindle First Books Each Month

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Smart home is what’s hot in tech, and you might be surprised to learn it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Today I’m sharing a cross-posting from Love My Echo that details a kind of “starter kit” to give you everything you need to kick off an Alexa-driven smart home, on a budget.


Yep, you read that title right: for US$150, you can get everything you need to get an Alexa-based smart home off the starting blocks—or give a loved one the gift of a smart home starter kit. This combo is ideal for renters or dorm dwellers too, because there’s no wiring to run and nothing to be permanently installed. Smart home on a budget: it’s a thing!

 

150 Smart Home Starter Kit

 

You can get all the stuff pictured above for just under US$150 (as of this writing on 11/15/16, prices slightly higher in the UK). With the setup above, smart home mornings are good to go.

Alexa wakes you with your choice of alarm tone, then you ask her to turn on the bedroom light and as you pull yourself out of bed to stretch, you ask her, “What’s up?” to get the day’s weather report and trending news.

As you move sleepily to the bathroom to brush your teeth, you ask Alexa to shuffle your morning playlist or tune to your favorite radio station (because you’ve connected the Dot to an external speaker of your own via Bluetooth).

Changing into your clothes for the day, you ask Alexa to start the coffee (because you pre-loaded and switched on the coffee maker the night before, but it won’t have any power until you ask Alexa to turn it on: it’s plugged into a TP-Link smart plug).

The delicious smell of piping hot java wafts in to perk you up, and as you finish primping you ask Alexa what’s on your calendar for the day. One last Alexa request, for the traffic report, and you’re ready to grab that cup o’ joe.

Just before you head out the door, you ask Alexa to turn off the bedroom light, turn off the coffee maker, and turn off the music.

It’s gonna be a great smart home day!

 


The Items To Buy

1. All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – Black + TP-Link Smart Plug – $69.99
(UK visitors click here for the Dot, and click here for the TP-Link Smart plug)

2. LIFX (A19) Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb, Adjustable, Multicolor, Dimmable, No Hub Required, Works with Alexa – $59.99
(UK visitors click here)

3. Black & Decker CM1200B 12-Cup Switch Coffeemaker, Black – $16.19
(UK visitors click here for the comparable Swan model)


 

$69.99 + $59.99 + $16.19 = $146.17

See? Getting started with smart home doesn’t have to cost a fortune! You’ll notice that the coffee maker isn’t a “smart” appliance, and in fact it’s important to get about the “dumbest” coffee maker you can for this setup, not a programmable model. It works because you can leave it switched on and ready to brew, but plugged into a smart plug that won’t power on until you ask Alexa to turn it on.

 

Love My Echo will be running a series of these Smart Home on a Budget posts over the holiday shopping season, to address several budget ranges and smart home device suites.

 

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Fire Tablet Tip of the Week: Where To Find Kindle First Books Each Month

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11/14/16 Music Monday: Classical Collections

Posted November 13, 2016 By Mom
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Welcome To DMM’s 11/14/16 Music Monday!
Each week I comb through the Amazon Digital Music catalog to find a few bargain-priced gems to share. Today I’m sharing two large collections that are both rated 5/5 stars and both (currently) priced at just 99 cents each.


 

 

The pieces in Piano Classics for Babies aren’t just for babies. These 50 lovely tracks can lighten anyone’s mood. Currently rated 5/5 stars.


 

 

If you prefer something with a bit more heft, Bigger Beethoven Box is the collection for you. 189 tracks, currently rated 5/5 stars.


 

The All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White + TP-Link Smart Plug bundle (UK visitors: click here for the TP-Link Smart Plug, click here for the Echo Dot in White) is a great way to dip a toe into the Alexa pool before investing more heavily in smart home or Alexa devices. There’s no need to buy a hub or any other equipment, Alexa support for this plug is built right into the software. The Dot allows you to use your own speakers for the audio output if you like, connecting wirelessly or via Bluetooth, and still provides all the same Alexa functionality as the full-sized Echo. Currently (as of 11/13/16) rated 4/5 stars across over 1,280 reviews and currently priced at $69.99, this bundle saves you about $10 compared to buying the two items separately (bundle only available on Amazon’s US site). If you have a friend or family member who’s curious about Alexa and smart home, this would make a great gift.

Advertisements make it possible for Digital Media Mom to bring you great content for free, so thanks for your support.

 

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Fire Tablet Tip of the Week: Where To Find Kindle First Books Each Month

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