2020 has been a crummy year on so many different levels. For many families, one of the greatest hardships of the year has been being isolated from loved ones. For those of us who have family in assisted living, the lockdowns have been excruciating. There was one bright spot, however, that made this year a little better: the Echo Show smart display with Alexa.
When my dad went into assisted living about a year and a half ago, we wanted some way that we could communicate with him at any time of day or night. At first, we thought that we could simply FaceTime or Zoom with Dad, but we soon realized that his motor skills and lack of technology experience put an end to those video chat options. It wasn't that we weren't comfortable calling him. It was that he wasn't able to answer those calls. That's where the Echo Show came to the rescue.
Of course, the one we gave him was only intended to supplement the in-person visits that we had with him. Little did we know those visits would soon come to an end when COVID hit. Suddenly, the Echo Show was the main method of communicating with him.
The great aspect of the Echo Show is the Drop-In feature. It does what the name suggests–it allows you to "drop in" on the person you're calling. All you have to do is begin the video chat on your end (with a smartphone or another Echo Show), and it will call the person on the other end, with audio and video activated. In other words, my dad didn't have to do anything to answer the call. We could instantly see and hear him, and vice-versa. (Note: users have the option to turn this feature off for privacy.)
We liked the Echo Show so much that we set one up for my mother-in-law down in Florida. She doesn't live in a nursing home, but she has Parkinson's disease and has great difficulty holding a phone steady. Now we can drop in anytime to see her. In addition, when she's not using the Echo Show for our video chats, she utilizes its Alexa voice assistant to control the device. She can have it play music, show pictures, and fetch the weather and news.
I've recommended the Echo Show for many of my clients who live in or have family who live in assisted living, senior living, and independent living. While some of them don't like things that are "too techie," they all agree that this device has been very helpful. To me, it's one of the few material objects that made 2020 a little more bearable.