Using Technology to Get Help

Kim Fredrickson avatar

by Kim Fredrickson |

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Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

Over a month ago, one of our readers, Mardy Sitzer, shared a wonderful idea with me. She graciously permitted me to share it with you. Like many of us, Mardy has had IPF for quite a while and is on oxygen 24/7. Her IPF is advanced enough that she is at home on hospice care. She’s come up with a creative way to stay safe at home and increase her quality of life.

It’s wise to find ways to make sure we can get help whenever needed. I am very aware of how vulnerable I am, so I always carry my cellphone with me, even to use the restroom. Of course, it’s easy to forget my phone, end up with a dead battery, or not be able to reach my phone when needed.

Mardy came up with a creative solution to still be able to call for needed help if her cellphone fails her. She set up Amazon’s Echo, referred to as Alexa. She has them set up throughout her apartment in case she needs to call for help or needs help with daily tasks. It is a one-time cost ($20 for the small one and $100 for the larger one), no monthly maintenance fees (such as what comes with a life alert you wear around your neck), and is easy to set up. Google has one as well, so if you are interested, use whatever system you are most comfortable with. I receive no compensation for telling you about these products.

Help in an emergency

Echo allows you to ask for help using only your voice. You can program it to call anyone that is in your contact list. You can even set up a group and it will send a message to everyone in the group with an update or if you need help. As of now, you cannot ask Alexa to call 911. Alerts will be sent by text message/SMS, email, and even a voice telephone call.

Connect with other patients and share tips on how to manage PF in our forums!

You can use it to lock and unlock your front door by providing a voice code and a smart lock that is compatible. If there is an emergency, you can provide emergency services with the code, rather than them kicking in your door.

My dad passed away a month ago, and although he had a Life Alert, he never wore it. He fell twice and couldn’t reach the phone. I wish we’d known about this while he was still alive.

Help with daily tasks

Mardy likes being able to open her front door without having to jump up and down when someone comes. There are apps for smartphones that invite friends and family to have access to your home without having a key.

Echo can make a list for you to remember, such as a shopping list or a to-do list. All you have to say is, “Alexa, add apples to my shopping list,” or “It’s time to pay bills.”

You can communicate with family and friends using just your voice to let them know how you’re doing. Alexa can send a text, e-mail, or voice message.

Medication reminders

You can set up multiple reminders to take medications at a specific time, such as, “Alexa, remind me to take my medicine at 9 a.m. every day.”


You can get your local news, weather, time, and sports scores from Alexa whenever you want, update your calendar, and play music, the radio, or audiobooks. Alexa will even tell you silly jokes, and you can pair it with Fire TV to voice control movies and entertainment.

Great gift idea

The holidays are coming and this would be a great gift for yourself or as a suggestion for others to give to you. It is a simple, fun, and reliable way to take good care of yourself.

I have a first-generation Echo that I use to play music and ask questions about a variety of topics. Mardy has given me some great ideas for using Echo to take even better care of myself.

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you use Echo or some other device to make your every day a little easier? Which of the ideas above would help you the most? Please leave a comment to thank Mardy for sharing her great idea with us!

Also, please share with those who could benefit via email or on social media.


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


robert o'brien avatar

robert o'brien

This is a good one!?Thank you.

Kim Fredrickson avatar

Kim Fredrickson

Hi Robert,
So glad this was helpful! Thanks Mardy for your wonderful information!

Michelle Harms avatar

Michelle Harms

This is an amazing idea. And being a first responder as well, I love the idea of being able to either unlock the door with voice command or giving first responders a code. We had one wonderful elderly lady that lived alone in the country. She had a hide-a-key but every time she thought we might know where it was, she would move it. We would spend 15-20 minutes attempting to locate the key at times when she fell. This could have prevented this situation and let her keep her peace of mind as well. My mom and brother could use the medication reminders. So many benefits. Thanks so much for sharing and I will be passing it on as well.

Kim Fredrickson avatar

Kim Fredrickson

Hi Michelle! Yes it is such a wonderful idea. So glad Mardy shared it with us :)

Love your story of being a first responder, and the struggles you encountered. This definetely would help!

Mary J. McInnis avatar

Mary J. McInnis

I am a newbie here and would like to thank Mardy for such great ideas for Alexa. I was given one for Christmas last year. I got it going but have never really used it. Can't wait to program Alexa to be my little helper.

Kim Fredrickson avatar

Kim Fredrickson

Hi Mary,
Thanks so much for your comment, encouraging Mardy. I'm so glad the column was helpful and I hope Alexa helps you out! It's good to have you a part of our community :)


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