Cynthia Corbett and the Center for Advancing Chronic Care Outcomes through Research and Innovation team (ACORN) are partnering with the Prisma Health PACE program to study the impact of virtual home assistants (Amazon's Alexa) on elderly adults. The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) provides community-based comprehensive medical and social services to vulnerable adults.
The long-term goal of the program is to assist adults with aging in place within the community. "Health care is moving more out of the hospital and out into the community. The main priority of ours is to stay connected with our patients," says Dr. Michael Parmer, Medical Director of PACE.
"Dr. Corbett's team is researching and testing technologies that are simple for patients to use but provide a significant impact on quality of life."- Dr. Parmer
Participants in the study receive an Echo Show and Echo Dot (i.e., "Alexa") free of cost and seven home visits to train them to do various activities on the device. "The current study is a proof-of-concept study, and the participants seem to like the technology. In future studies, we will test whether people's activities with the technology can promote their mental, cognitive, and functional health to promote their abilities to age in place," explains Dr. Corbett.
Audrey, a 61-year-old PACE patient, says the PACE program helps take care of everything she needs to stay healthy such as taking her to doctor's appointments and making sure she has medications. She has also made a lot of friends. Audrey shares,
"I really like having Alexa in my home! I use her to listen to my favorite music. The alarms help me stay on track, and the games are fun too." - Audrey
Dr. Corbett's assistant, Lizzy Combs, showed her how to use Alexa to make lists and keep track of her groceries. She also showed her how to play memory games as Audrey has trouble with her memory. "When Lizzy comes for my Alexa lessons, we play games together," smiles Audrey.