In 2019, I received an Alexa-enabled smart display as a Christmas gift. At that time, I was skeptical and suspicious of the device, fearing the privacy concerns associated with a camera-embedded Amazon device. However, circumstances changed dramatically when my mother fell ill during the pandemic, and I found myself relying on the very device I once distrusted. This article explores my journey from skepticism to dependence on Alexa as a vital support system during my caregiving role for my mother with Parkinson’s disease.
My mother had been battling Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neurological disorder, for several years. Initially, her symptoms were manageable, and she could still engage in physical activities such as running. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, her condition took a sharp turn for the worse. Suddenly, she struggled to walk for more than ten minutes, making even the simplest tasks a challenge. The doctors prescribed medication to alleviate her symptoms, which brought about high blood pressure as a side effect. Unfortunately, her health deteriorated further, resulting in multiple hospitalizations and an increasing list of medications with intensified side effects.
As the pandemic forced everyone into isolation, I found myself becoming my mother’s primary caregiver during the most isolated time in modern history. I was overwhelmed and fearful, witnessing my strong and self-sufficient mother become increasingly helpless. With physical support unavailable due to quarantine restrictions, I turned to Alexa as a source of assistance. Despite my initial skepticism, I was astounded when I discovered the device’s helpful features.
In a desperate attempt to avoid unnecessary hospital visits and ease my mother’s hypertensive crisis, I asked Alexa to play fart sounds – a seemingly absurd request. Surprisingly, the laughter triggered by Alexa’s unexpected response relieved the tension and significantly lowered my mother’s blood pressure. This unusual incident sparked my curiosity, leading me to explore other ways in which Alexa could provide assistance for the sick and elderly.
One of the initial ways I utilized Alexa was to remind my mother to take her medications. As the list of medications grew longer and her memory declined, this feature lightened my caregiving load considerably. It ensured that she never missed a dose, providing me with peace of mind and allowing me to focus on other aspects of her care.
During the times when I couldn’t be by my mother’s side and she felt lonely or needed company, Alexa became her trusted companion. She found solace in interacting with the device, laughing at its antics, and engaging in conversations. Alexa became a source of entertainment and emotional support, helping to alleviate the feelings of isolation both my mother and I experienced during the pandemic.
Despite my lingering distrust, I developed a fondness for Alexa. While I still held reservations and refrained from certain activities in front of the device, I couldn’t deny the positive impact it had on my caregiving journey. Alexa became more than just a functional gadget; it became an integral part of our daily lives. Witnessing my mother’s interactions with Alexa brought warmth to my heart and a smile to my face, regardless of the challenges we faced each day.
Through Alexa, I learned to appreciate the unexpected ways in which technology could assist caregivers. It provided us with companionship, information, and even a sense of humor during the most challenging times. Alexa’s capabilities extended beyond what I could have imagined, transforming it from a suspicion-inducing device to my most cherished gadget.
While my journey from doubt to dependence on Alexa may seem unique, it highlights the broader potential of technology in caregiving roles. Through smart devices like Alexa, caregivers can find companionship, accessibility, and practical support for their loved ones. The power of connection and assistance these devices offer can make a significant difference in the lives of caregivers and those they care for.
My experience as a caregiver during the pandemic taught me that preconceived notions can be shattered, and unexpected sources of support can emerge. Alexa transformed from an object of suspicion into an invaluable tool for me and my mother, providing both practical assistance and emotional respite. As technology continues to advance, it is essential to remain open-minded and explore its potential in overcoming the challenges faced by caregivers worldwide.