Seniors who attended a recent Age Friendly Saco session on ‘smart’ devices learned a lot – and then returned for another session on how to use them. Courtesy Photo

SACO — Age Friendly Saco has launched a new Assistive Technology program as part of its Handy Neighbor initiative. The team of volunteers who make up the AT program will help Saco’s older residents install new virtual personal assistant devices, with a focus on products such as the Echo Dot, as well as smart plugs and other “smart home” devices.

Age Friendly Saco officials say seniors are eager for this type of technology. On Jan. 14, the Age Friendly Saco multi-purpose room at the Saco Community Center was full of attendees hoping to win one the AT raffle prizes. Using grant money, the organization was able to give away eight Echo Dots and Smart Plugs. A week later, the room was full again for the demo installation said Saco Communications Director Emily Roy.

“As a single woman living alone, I worry about falling,” said Barbara Frost, an Age Friendly Saco volunteer and program member who attended the training. She said whether she’s upstairs or in her basement, if she were to fall, her Echo Dot would hear her yell out.

“It has given me a new lease on life to be able to be in my home independently and feel safe,” she said.

The devices can be set up to give medication reminders, help with directions, or call contact lists in an emergency. More simply, it can make tasks such as playing music or checking the weather even more accessible.

“It almost seems endless what the (device) can do for you,” Frost said.

Jean Saunders, director of Age Friendly Saco, said that there have plans to expand their “line up” of smart devices. Including the Echo Show, a device that includes a screen for face-to-face communication, would allow their team to do daily check in calls with area seniors.

“So that they not only hear a human voice” every day, she said, “but also see a face.”

Age Friendly Saco plans to continue to grow the program and help Saco seniors install, understand, manage, and get the most out of their smart devices, said Saunders.

For more information, contact Age Friendly Saco at 710-5029 or at: [email protected]

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