Getting Older Adults Connected to the Internet
By Monique Carpentier
Video calling or connecting to the internet is fantastic, however getting the technology setup often becomes the roadblock or thought of as too overwhelming to those who don’t have a “smartphone”, a laptop/tablet/computer, or internet service. Cost may sometimes be a factor as well. This article explains how I worked with my Aunt B to get access to video calling, weather, music, and a few other functions using an Alex Echo Show 8 (Echo Show). This was my solution after looking at the options and her needs.
My Aunt B is 90 years young. She has cable and a landline She considers technology overwhelming, however she has been house bound since Covid19, and is completely isolated except for neighbors checking in on her and my weekly calls as I live out of state. We decided to give technology a try, baby step style.
Getting Connected – Wi-Fi(wireless signal) is needed to connect to the internet (used to video call). I called her cable company, and found out that she needed a new modem. We got that set up, keeping all the names as simple as possible and used my phone number as the passwords. I got her the address where her Wi-Fi was going to come from to be used by Echo Show She could take advantage of bundling (cable, landline, and internet) services. She wasn’t concerned about speed of the connection. Her price increase was under $20 a month.
Connectivity – Next, I needed to create her online identity which is what all her communications and accounts are tied to so that they will all be linked together. I installed Google Chrome and Voice (google voice) for Androids on my cell phone then signed in to Gmail using her account that I had created, and then signed in and got her a phone number in voice.google.com (Voice).
In Voice, I set up a phone to forward the calls to Google Phone number – use Dialing/web phone features to landline – go to Google Voice, enter in info, I needed an email account, and selected a phone number, and linked it to a phone number that I then needed to test. Aunt B will never use her email account or voicemail, so I deselected all the email options and voicemail options. I only wanted the call forwarding options on the Web. NOTE: For all the accounts setups, I linked the google phone number to my cell as the Voice app is needed to get confirmation texts. Once all the set up was done and the Echo Show calling test is completed, I then changed the linked number from my cell to her phone – she got the call, called me with code and she validated it. We were done. –
Then I will go to Amazon.com and create a new account, as Aunt B didn’t have one, so I used her Voice number as her account and future sign in. I filled in the information. Right now she isn’t interested in ordering from Amazon, so I left those options alone.
The Device – I ordered an Alexa Echo Show 8, with no pre-configuration that was first sent to me. I ordered via QVC in a special and is was under $100 with some trial subscriptions. This has an 8 inch corner to corner touch screen, has a drop in call feature, video call to other devices to receiving cell with Alexa app installed and a few more features. The Alexa device may be too limited in functionality for some, but for Aunt B, she wanted voice managed weather, news, music, video calling, recipes and to not get overwhelmed, so we figured this was the best way to go.
I installed the Alexa App on my cell and signed in using her Amazon account, and added her Echo Show, went to contacts, and made sure that I hadn’t imported my contacts, and added the numbers she would want. Going forward she can add them manually using the Echo Home. I could also have access to her account via the Alex app if she wanted, so we could take advantage of more features later on. In the Alex App there are instructions on how to do set up the Echo Show for loved ones and other tips. I have listed below what will be needed to set up the Echo Show.
For Alexa Echo Show 8 setup you will need:
As outlined above – WiFi, Cell phone/Voice phone number, Email, Amazon Account, Alexa App
For those to receive your calls, they will need the Alexa App or an Echo Show. Permissions will need to be granted for drop in . The Alexa app works on Android and Apple phones.
I turned on the Echo Show that I was sending her, and the start up program ran, I entered in her information. I skipped the rest of the start information. I went to the start screen and selected drop screen, entered the network and password, hit save and then shut down the device. I packaged it up and sent it off to her. Her world is slowing opening up. Now to see what she thinks…..
It takes some work for a family member to set up but once it is set up, it is easy for the senior to use. Let us know your experience trying to get an older adult connected to technology and the world!