The Wonders of a Virtual Assistant

I had the opportunity to help a friend conduct an interview several years ago. My main job was to take pictures and audio record while she filmed an interview with Father Pat. What was so special about Father Pat? He was a blind artist who painted and created sculptures from memory.

When we arrived, he conducted a tour of him home. Walking through his house, I was not only amazed at his artwork but also amazed at how independent he could be with his virtual assistant, Alexa. He could turn his music up and down, control the thermostat, ceiling fan, and much more. He was even thoughtful enough to turn on the lights for us! All he had to do was tell Alexa what he wanted and Alexa made it happen.

When I started taking care of my mom, I was so busy trying move, organize, get on a schedule, and just adjust in general... I forgot all about Father Pat.

After living together for 6 months, I suggested to my mom that we get rid of her satellite dish and convert to internet for TV. I showed her we could save money and it is less aggravation. When she agreed, I went online and noticed a special Amazon was offering on their Firestick TV's... purchase a Firestick and you get an Amazon Echo Dot (aka Alexa) for a discount 50% off.

All of the sudden I had a flood of memories of Father Pat's house. **Forehead Slap** Why did I not remember this!!!

As soon as I hooked up Alexa, my mom and I started to discover how this virtual tool could bring my mom an unbelievable amount of independence and make my life a little easier.

Just by using your voice,

Create reminders that help you track your medicine

Make sure you take your medicine on time

Set alarms

Turn lights on and off

Control the thermostat and fan settings

Ask fun and silly questions

Play music

Use as a remote control for the TV

Place a food order for delivery

Hear the latest news

Take time for mediation

Create grocery lists

Add appointments to calendar


We have an Amazon Echo. Even though the Echo cannot call 911 or emergency services (yet), We were able to hook up my smart phone. If my mom has an emergency, she can call someone for help if I'm not home.

Alexa also has a night light that can be activated and deactivated at night.


I work from home so balancing work and my accessibility was a challenge. I'm only a shout away but I had to endure interruptions every few minutes. Eventually, I knew I needed to find a better form of communication.

If my mom wants to add something to the grocery list all she has to do is say it out loud and Alexa will listen. She can also place Amazon orders for items she uses frequently. She can do all of this from her bed and does not have to interrupt my day. The lists will show up on my phone when I go grocery shopping.

Intercom System

When my mom needed something she would shout out across the house for me. Because I could not understand what she was saying, I would have to get up go to her room and see what she wanted.

My first remedy was to buy a pair of walky-talkies that were fun for a couple of days. Honestly, I'm the one to blame, I would forget to charge mine and was constantly misplacing it. My mom would forget which button to press to talk.

Now, we can use the Echo as an intercom system. If my mom needs help with something, she no longer has to yell across the house to get my attention. Now she can just say, "Alexa, announce it's time to feed the dogs".

Me Me Me

Since getting the Amazon Echo Dot, my mom is a little less dependent on me and that is good for both of us. Getting up to adjust the thermostat may not seem like a big to deal to most but when you are aging in place it is a big deal. As a caretaker, it is one less interruption and worry.

Margaret Civella

Contributor for One Up Fit

Writer and editor for iReview

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