Best answer: Alexa Together is a $20 per month subscription (with a six-month free trial) that uses Echo devices to monitor and check in on elderly loved ones, including access to a 24/7 Urgent Response team. It replaces and incorporates Alexa Care Hub, a free service with Alexa-based monitoring but fewer professional tools.
Alexa Care Hub: (Formerly) free peace of mind
In November 2020, Amazon launched Alexa Care Hub, a service meant "to help aging customers maintain independence and provide assurance to family members." In essence, it tied two Echo Dots, Echo Shows, or other Echos together so that children of elderly parents could check in on them at any time.
Once connected, the parent's Echo device would track their activities during the day, alerting the remote caregiver when it first receives a request or if it doesn't detect any action by a certain time. When a loved one uses Alexa, the caregiver will have access to their activity feed, but not specific requests. For instance, you'd see that your parent used the Echo for Entertainment at 1:32 p.m., but not what song or video they played.
Since seniors might not use Alexa every day, you could also pair Alexa-compatible smart home tech like Echo Flex or contact sensors on a medicine cabinet to determine when they're active around the home. Or you could receive notifications from Alexa-enabled smart doorbells whenever someone comes by, or the parent leaves home.
If you were concerned that something was wrong, you could Drop In on that family member's Echo at any time. And it added a new Emergency Contact feature: If your parent said "Alexa, call for help," their Echo would immediately call, text, and notify you via an alert to get in touch with you. It didn't support 911 calls, however.
All of these features were freely available. And tools like Drop In and Emergency Contact are still free today for anyone to use, regardless of age. But the other features are now bundled into Alexa Together, meaning you'll have to pay for them. Thankfully, if you set up Care Hub before the transition, Amazon will give you a free year's subscription to the service, whereas new subscribers will only get six months.
Alexa Together: Paying for remote care
On September 28, Amazon announced its new Alexa Together service. It takes the Echo-based monitoring from Alexa Care Hub and adds fresh features to make the monitored person's safety less dependent on a single person.
One issue with Care Hub was that only one family member could be the support contact in an emergency. In 2022, Alexa Together will let multiple people monitor a parent or elder, so everyone is informed, and nothing slips through the cracks. As far as we can tell, one caregiver still can't be the contact for multiple people, unfortunately.
Another issue was that Care Hub fully depended on seniors setting up the Echo themselves, then figuring out how to use it for daily life. With Alexa Together, you can enable Remote Access so a younger person can set reminders or change settings for them — just in case they can't figure something out.
The most prominent reason to subscribe is for 24/7 Urgent Response. Now, when a senior says, "Alexa, call for help," they'll be connected with a professional who can get them help or call an ambulance.
Alexa Together adds support for third-party fall detection devices from Vayyar and SkyAngelCare. If they fall while wearing it, the device will send a message through the Echo to the Urgent Response team. An operator will call unprompted to ask if the person is okay or needs assistance. Family members will be notified something is wrong, but they can rest assured that someone else is handling the emergency.
Alexa Together will cost $20 per month or $200 per year — not counting the fall-detecting device or other Alexa devices Amazon wants you to buy to build a passive monitoring system. As mentioned before, you'll get a six-month free trial before you have to pay. It's not currently available, but you can go to the Amazon Together page and sign up to receive an email when it goes live.
A Care Hub upgrade
Use smart home tech to keep track of your elderly parents (without entirely invading their privacy). You can also pay to have pros on standby, just in case.
The best Echo to buy
Echo Show 8 (2nd gen)
Make Drop-Ins more fun
An Echo Show 8 gives you a visual accompaniment to info requests. It's useful for those who are hard of hearing and enables video calling for family members checking in. It's our favorite model to recommend.
Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.
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