Health

Alexa for the Elderly

Computer science student Brett Krutiansky has an app to help with eldercare.

By Sarah Coppola
Illustration by Josh Reese

Illustration by Josh Reese

Innovation is often born of necessity. For computer science student Brett Krutiansky, the necessity was a desire to help his ailing grandparents.

Krutiansky’s grandfather has dementia and vertigo, and his grandmother is completely blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other. The pair lives part of the time with Krutiansky’s family and part of the time with his aunt, but family members can’t always be home to provide round-the-clock care.

Krutiansky, CIS’18, wanted to find a way to remotely monitor his grandparents’ well-being. At the May 2017 TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon in New York City, he spent 20 hours developing Elderly Alexa, a voice app that builds upon the call-response platform of Amazon Echo’s Alexa.

Although the application is not yet available to the public, Krutiansky is testing it on his own family with the intention of commercializing it in the fall.

The app helps Krutiansky’s parents control and monitor his grandparents’ schedule. For example, family members can program in the name, dosage, and time of day for medications. Krutiansky’s grandparents can ask Elderly Alexa what medications they have taken or still need to take that day. Or Elderly Alexa can remind them when it’s time to take a medication.

Family members can also plug other to-dos into the app, such as reminding the grandparents to drink more water to stay hydrated on warm days.

“My mom can basically set their daily schedule, and Alexa just guides them through it,” Krutiansky says.

Each time a grandparent takes medicine or completes a specific task, Elderly Alexa notifies family members with an email. Not receiving an email might be a sign that something’s wrong. Relatives can then hop into a chat room to coordinate care—and decide, for example, who will drive over to check on mom and dad.

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