How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved One

By: Frank Engelman.  Updated: September 10, 2021.


Setting Up Alexa Calling


Are you looking for a way to setup video chats with your loved one who lives independently or in a facility?

This article tells you how to do that, using the Echo Show, without requiring your loved one to do any of the "setting up".


New to This Topic?

This is a Deep-dive "How To" article. If you are not yet sure if the Echo Show is the right product for your situation, you probably want to start with one of these related pieces of research.



Setting the Stage: Common Questions

Let’s listen on in a conversation between two seniors: Bob, whose mother just moved into a nursing home, and Frank, who just completed an Alexa Calling setup for his Mom.


Alexa Calling for Staying in Touch with Mom

Bob: I have been reading that Amazon Alexa Calling is the easiest way for me to have video chats with my Mom, but I have no idea how to get started for her.

Frank: Amazon Alexa Calling is a great way to do video chats with your Mom. You can have a video call with her even if she is unable to say the proper Alexa command to answer the call or unable to tap the icon on the Amazon Echo Show screen. That is accomplished using the “drop-in” feature. Here are the various Echo Show sizes (fig 1).

Echo Show Variants

Figure 1: Different versions of the Amazon Echo Show.
L-R: Echo Show 5; Echo Show 8; Echo Show (Gen 2).


But I Can't Visit Mom to Set It Up

Bob: Great. I actually setup an Echo Show in my own home and have done video chats with other family members, but they each setup their own Echo Show… How can I setup one for my Mom, especially since she doesn’t live nearby?

Frank: Amazon recently offered some advice (Reference 1) on how to do that remotely.

I suggest you follow their advice and configure your Mom’s Echo Show at YOUR home, using YOUR Wi-Fi, then the only thing that will have to change at her home is the Wi-Fi.


Can't Mom Just Use My Amazon Account?

Bob: Ok, but as I read their setup procedure, I see she would need her own Amazon account. Can’t she just use mine?

Frank: I recommend getting her a free Amazon account. That way all her preferences such as music and contacts are separate. You will still be able to log into her account when you are home to later make any changes necessary. In fact, if you keep an Echo device, say an Echo Dot, at your home logged into her account, you can remotely help her troubleshoot problems. And… you will be able to remote “push” family photos to her Echo Show as a slide show.


But She Doesn't Have a Cell Phone. It Says She Needs One.

Bob: Hmm, they also mention using “her cell phone” to complete the setup. She does not have or want a cell phone and I don’t want to buy a “burner” just for this setup.

Frank: Not to worry. There is a way to do this using her Amazon account and a free Google Voice account, which creates a free mobile number that Amazon needs to complete the Alexa Calling setup. You can log into her Amazon account with YOUR cell phone to complete the setup, including Contacts. I’ll give you details later on how to perform this step by step.


I Don't Want All MY Contacts in HER Alexa

Bob: Ok, I get it, but I read that if I use MY cell phone, that all my contacts be in there!

Frank: No, you can add the contacts your Mom needs one by one.


The Retirement Home Might Not Let Me Connect to Their WiFi

Bob: Oh, I forgot to mention that she is now in a nursing home. I know an Echo Show device needs Wi-Fi to work. What if they won’t allow it on their network?

Frank: Aha, there is a way around that using a paid cell service with what the carriers call a mobile hotspot.


Her TV is So Loud. She Will Not Hear the Call.

Bob: Oh, one more thing. She plays her TV very loud and I’m afraid she won’t be able to hear me calling her.

Frank: I have a fix for that! You also install a Fire TV Cube for her TV. If she is watching TV when your call comes in, it will actually pause the TV! (Reference 2). She will also have other benefits using the Fire TV Cube such as voice control of her TV shows and family pictures.


Do My Siblings Also Need an Echo Show to Video Chat with Mom?

Bob: Oh, one last thing. My brothers and sisters will also want to do video chats with Mom. Will they all need an Echo Show?

Frank: They can just use an Alexa app on their cell phone. They will be able to call Mom and she can even call them! If they have the Alexa app running when she calls, they will be asked to answer the call. If the Alexa app is not running at that time, they will get a regular cell phone call and can then call her right back in the Alexa app. One of the benefits of using an Echo Show is that it will show you when Mom is nearby her Echo Show and that might be a good time to call her.


OK. You Convinced Me. :)

Bob: Ok, OK… I’m convinced. Please give me all the step by step info you mentioned.

Frank: Of course. Here are some detailed setup instructions.



List of Equipment, Software, and Applications Required


Equipment needed:

Amazon Echo Show device for your home and your Mom’s home.

  • Be sure to order hers as a “gift” so that Amazon does not pre-configure it for your settings.
  • You could reset it to “Factory Default”, if you ordered it configured (see below).


Wi-Fi at both locations.

  • Add a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, if Wi-Fi is not available if at your Mom’s location.


You need a mobile phone other than your own.

  • If your Mom does not have one, see the Google Voice workaround below.


Software needed:

  • Separate Amazon accounts for you and your parent.
  • Alexa app on your mobile phone.
  • Setup a Google account and a free Google Voice for your Mom — if she has no mobile phone.



Setup Instructions: Step by Step


1. Set up YOUR Echo Device

  1. Plug it in and wait for the prompts. (If you have previously ordered Amazon Echo devices, it may already have the steps below performed.)
  2. Select a language by tapping the screen.
  3. Select your Wi-Fi network name.
  4. Enter your Wi-Fi password.
  5. Enter your Amazon account email and password.
  6. Sign in.
  7. Confirm the time zone.


2. Set Up your MOM’s Echo Device

  1. Plug it in and wait for the prompts.
  2. If it was delivered with your settings, you can perform a Factory Default Reset (see below).
  3. Select a language by tapping the screen.
  4. Select YOUR Wi-Fi network name (this will be changed later).
  5. Enter YOUR Wi-Fi password and Tap CONNECT.
  6. Enter your MOM’s Amazon account email and password and Tap DONE.
  7. Sign in with your MOM’s account, tap CONTINUE.
  8. Set the correct time zone & address, tap CONTINUE.
  9. Choose a room location or skip.
  10. Rename the device to your preference, e.g. Mom’s Echo Show.
  11. Choose some wallpaper, e.g. Nature.
  12. Watch the video tutorial that pops up during setup for some usage hints.
  13. Select which "Amazon offers" you want (if any). NOTE: Your MOM does NOT need a Prime account, nor a payment method for this to work. And in general we recommend keeping things simple to start.
  14. When you bring this Echo Show to your Mom’s house, you will need to change the Wi-Fi settings.
  15. This would be a good time to review all the messages that will be popping up on her screen… some people are annoyed by too many messages. See next section.


Review Her "Settings" 

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen.
  2. Tap the “Settings” gear in the upper right.
  3. Scroll to “Home Content”.
  4. Choose which messages you think she will find appropriate. (Note: you can only set these messages up while at her Echo Show… they are not remotely changeable.).


Notes on "Settings"

  • Drop-in is useful, if your Mom has trouble speaking to Alexa or tapping the answer button on a call.
  • Weather is always useful.
  • Shared with You can give you a means to send her pictures to automatically display.


Adjust Her Accessibility Settings

  1. Scroll to “Accessibility”.
  2. Choose the settings you think might be helpful.


Notes on Accessibility Settings:

  • Closed caption may be helpful.
  • Alexa Captioning helps by displaying the text of Alexa’s speech on the screen.
  • Communication Without Speech is useful. It transcribes voice messages into text.
  • Tap to Alexa adds an icon on the screen that your Mom could touch to call up Alexa actions you determine. For example:
    1. Music
    2. News
    3. Call your Alexa devices


Factory Default Reset (needed only if the Echo Show comes with your settings and you want to reset them)

  1. Swipe down from top of the screen.
  2. Tap “Settings” gear.
  3. Scroll to “Device Options” and tap it.
  4. Scroll to “Reset to Factory Defaults” and tap it.



3. Configure Alexa Communications for Your MOM’s Account

There are two different ways to create and configure your mother's Alexa Account, depending on whether or not she has a mobile phone capable of running the Alexa App.


The basic issue here is that the Alexa App needs some type of phone number to use as a reference to your mother's Alexa.

If she has a cellphone modern enough to run the Alexa App, then Alexa can use her cellphone number to remember her. However, if she does not have such a cell phone (or if you can't get your hands on it because she is locked way), then you can create a separate Google voice number in your mother's name, and give that to Alexa to use as a reference. In that case, she does not need a cellphone at all.

  • If she does have a mobile phone capable of running the Alexa Appp, and you can access that phone, then jump to "Scenario B".
  • If she does NOT have a mobile phone, or if you cannot access it, then there is an extra step first, as explained in Scenario A below.



Step 3a: Create Your Mother's Alexa Account

Scenario A: She does NOT have a mobile phone, or you cannot access her mobile phone.

You will need to perform these extra steps using YOUR cell phone by adding a Google Voice number. Google Voice will need to use your cell phone number to setup the new number.

NOTE: Alexa Communications really doesn’t “call” this number… it merely uses it as a reference to find your Mom’s Alexa Echo Show.

UPDATE: Since this was first published, reader Allynn made a great suggestion about using TextNow to receive the SMS text setup message. I tested it on a few systems and it works great as an alternative to Google Voice. However as of September 2021, TextNow requires you to use a paid version in order for the number to stay allocated to you for a period longer than a few months. You need this, so you need the paid version if you want to use this approach.

  1. Sign up for a Gmail account in her name (here is the link to signup for a Gmail account).
  2. Sign up for a Google Voice number in her name (here is the link to signup for Google Voice).
  3. Sign into the Alexa app on your phone, using your MOM’s Alexa account. (You will need to delete and re-install the Alexa app to do this). [Don't worry. Your settings are stored in the cloud, so when you have reinstalled the App and logged in again as you, your old settings should still be there!]
  4. Proceed to Step 3b.


Notes about setting up Google Voice:

  • Search a new number… do NOT use your phone number. Select any location & number.
  • Google will need to use YOUR mobile phone number to complete the setup with a text message.
  • Be sure to use your Mom’s Gmail account.
  • When you see the “Enter your phone number” prompt, enter YOUR cell phone number. (This will be used to receive a text code for confirmation of setup). 
  • Enter the code you received.
  • Note: Your cell phone number can have only ONE Google Voice Number assigned.


Scenario B. If your Mom has a mobile phone capable of running the Alexa app:
  • Install the Alexa app on her phone.
  • Log into the Alexa app (as your mother).
  • Proceed to Step 3b.



Step 3b: Enter the Phone Number Alexa will Use to Identify your Mother's Alexa

Once logged in (as your mother) you should see a screen that looks like this:

Alexa screen 1

Figure 2: Screenshot showing "Communicate" Icon.


  • Tap the “Communicate” icon on the bottom left (fig 2). Then:
Scenario A:
  • Enter the Google Voice number, then grant permissions for calling and messaging.
  • Your phone’s Google Voice app will receive a verification code.
Scenario B:
  • Enter your Mom’s mobile phone information, then grant permissions for calling and messaging
  • Your Mom’s mobile phone will receive a verification code via text.



Step 3c: Add Your Contact Info So She Can Call You.

In figure 3 below you see the "Person Silhouette" in the upper right.

Person button on Alexa

Figure 3: Screenshot showing "Person Sillhouette"

  • Tap the “Person outline” in upper right (fig 3) A different screen will appear showing a "Contact List" as in figure 4 below.



Figure 4: Screenshot showing Contact List

  • Tap the 3 vertical dots in the upper right (Fig 4).
  • Add YOUR contact info so that Alexa Communications can reach you


Step 3d: Avoid "Importing your contacts"

Alexa will suggest you "import your contacts" but we don't recommend that.

Importing contacts

Figure 5: Decide whether to "Import Contacts"

  • Do NOT import all contacts (fig 5)



Step 3e: Set up "Drop-in Feature"

  • If your Mom approves, you could also enable Drop-in for your contact. (This can be enabled later, by signing into her Alexa account if conditions change).
  • Save and close the Alexa app.



4. Configure Alexa Communications for YOUR account

  • Log back into your Alexa app. (If you had to use your phone to complete your Mom’s setup, you will need to delete & re-install the Alexa app).
  • Tap the “Communicate” icon on the bottom left (Fig 2).
  • Tap the “Person silhouette” in upper right (Fig 3).
  • Tap the 3 vertical dots in the upper right (Fig 4). Then Add your Mom’s contact info so that Alexa Communications can reach her from YOUR Alexa App.
  • Don’t import all contacts (Fig 5).
  • Save.



5. Test the Installation

You can test this even before delivering to your Mom’s house.

  • Move your Mom’s Echo Show to another room to reduce audio feedback. This also enables you to talk to one of the Alexas without the other one responding to your voice.
  • On your Echo Show say “Alexa, call Mom” (or whatever name or nickname you put in your Alexa Contacts). (Note: the first time Alexa may ask if you want her mobile phone or Alexa devices… choose Alexa devices.)
  • Your Mom’s Echo Show should offer her the option to answer.
  • After hanging up, try calling your Echo Show from her Echo show.


Final steps

If everything worked, bring the Echo Show to your Mom’s home and change the Wi-Fi settings when it boots up.



Please leave any questions in the comments below, and I will try and respond. 

In addition, we are collecting common questions and answers people have sent us on the page: "Alexa Questions & Answers" (also here on Tech-enhanced Life).




(1) Amazon advice post on setting up Alexa "for your loved one".

(2) See my DIY Solution: FireTV Cube to pause TV when Alexa calls.


Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the author. This article was NOT sponsored by Amazon or any other corporation. 


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Reader Comments: "How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved One"


from Drew F (unverified) at June 28, 2020

Frank, Thank you for your personal expertise and plainly laid out instructions! I've been trying to set up a new Echo Show 8 for my 90 year-old mother-in-law twice now, but both times I started out wrong and simply got to dead ends with no good guidance from YouTube. Your instructions were the 1st to recommend using Google Voice as a "mobile phone number" (my mother-in-law has failed repeatedly to appreciate the necessities of recharging devices, hence no more cell phones for her), so I was finally able to set up the Echo Show in her actual dedicated account! I've been testing it with video calling and dropping in, and it seems to be working the way I had originally hoped it would! Thanks again!!

Drew F
Honolulu, HI


from Andi S. (unverified) at January 14, 2023

Frank & Drew,

Thanks for this, I'm still working through the instructions, but our situation is further hampered by having father in law half way around the world. It sounds like we need to setup alexa app on his cell phone there, configure the show to his account (or I can add it to my account and he can drop in anytime). I'm trying to decipher how to do drop in on my sis in law show so that my wife, sis in law and dad in law can do group drop in vid calls.

When I look at the Alexa app on my phone, I'm not clear how I setup the others so Show can try to drop in on their devices (vs calling internationally)? Father in law is overseas, sis in law has a US line and an international line when she's visiting there.



from faengelm (member) at January 15, 2023

Hello Andi,

The simplest way is to add an Echo Show for your father-in-law to your Amazon account.

You can do this at your home using your Wi-Fi and then have someone change it to his Wi-Fi when he receives it. If there is no one there capable of doing that, and you know his Wi-Fi network name and password, you could set your phone’s hotspot to those settings and prepare his Echo Show before shipping

However, there are downsides to this approach. For one, since he is on your account, any commands he misspeaks could affect your devices, such as lighting or reminders. He may also get Alexa notifications meant for you, which can be confusing. You will be able to use Drop In by just saying “Alexa, drop in on his-name’s echo show”, but other family members would have to reach him by saying "Alexa, drop in on your-account-name” and his Echo Show would need to be the only one with Drop In enabled.

The better way to do this is to set your father-in-law up on his own Amazon account so that everyone can just drop in on him by using his Alexa Contact name. Given the distance involved and the complexity of setting up his Alexa account and family Alexa Contacts and Drop in permissions, I suggest it would be best for you to do that for him remotely.

If you have an old phone or tablet, you could use it under his account name. That can come in handy later if you need to make changes in the future on his account. If you don’t want to take that approach, you could log out of the Alexa account on your mobile device and log in as him to complete his account setup. Don’t forget to log out as him later and back in as yourself.

If he is capable of sending you the Alexa setup code, then you can use his phone number. If not, you can use an Internet phone number such as to satisfy the Alexa Calling requirements. I suggest using their Number Lock in services for $5/year so that the phone number doesn’t expire.

That way, you could receive the setup code in the TextNow app on your mobile phone instead of asking him to send you the setup code that would be sent to his phone.

You don’t have to worry about international calling as the phone number is only used as a reference point between Alexa calls; it’s not used actually to make phone calls

Please note that you need to enable Drop In on your father-in-law’s Alexa account for Echo Show as well as EACH CONTACT that is permitted to Drop In on him.

“How Does Drop In Work?”

Here is some information on doing Group Calls “Solution: How to Use Alexa for Group Calls”

Be sure to enable Group Calling in everyone’s Alexa app

Tap "More"

Tap "Settings"

Tap "Communications"

Tap "Enhanced Features"

Turn on "Enabled"

You mentioned doing “Drop In” group calls.

I know Amazon says that you can do that, BUT I think that only works within the same account.

“Have a group conversation with all supported Alexa-enabled devices under your Amazon household, which are not set to do not disturb. To start a group conversation, ask Alexa to…”

 If you need a way for your father-in-law to participate in a group call where he has difficulty accepting the call, there is a way to do it with a button to accept the call.


from faengelm (member) at August 03, 2020

Hello Drew F.

I'm glad the article helped.

I'm working on another article on the Amazon  Fire TV Cube that would allow easy TV control




from tientown (member) at August 06, 2020

Hello, Frank,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed procedures for doing this. I care for my elderly mom who is now in a long-term memory-care community here in Berkeley, California. I tried desperately to make a solution like this work with an iPad before the shutdown of elder care facilities due to COVID-19 back in March. We stumbled every time on the issue of answering the phone.

Through our family council, and some Facebook communities centered on caregivers with families in nursing homes and long-term care, there's been a lot of discussion about using devices like the Echo and the iPad for drop-in calls.

I've taken the liberty of sharing your article in a few posts and look forward to your continued articles. Keep up the great work. Thank you!



from faengelm (member) at August 07, 2020

Hello Barbara,

Thank you for your kind words



from Pam (unverified) at August 07, 2020


This article was invaluable when it came to setting up my moms show during covid! Thank you! I was able to use my Alexa app to call her on my phone so we only needed one Echo show. Thank you for again for all of the assistance this article provided!


from Matt Skevington (unverified) at September 02, 2020

What a lovely little article. Well done. Only wish I found this before I had to set up my mother's device.


from Kim Toombs  (unverified) at September 10, 2020

Thank you so much for these step by step instructions. I almost have my mom’s Echo Show 8 ready to take to the nursing home. I thought I set up “Drop in” when I was logged in the app under her account, but can’t make it work. Before I delete the app (Again)and install and log in as her again, I wanted to make sure I can even use the Mobile app to “drop in” on her Echo. Is this possible or do I need to go get another Echo Show for myself in order to “drop in”. She has dementia and will not remember how to answer. Thank you again, Kim


from faengelm (member) at September 11, 2020

Hello Kim,

Yes, you can drop in on your Mom using the Alexa app on your mobile phone. You don’t need an Echo Show for yourself.

Let me know the details of the problem you are seeing. I’m assuming that Alexa Calling is working fine, just the Drop-in is the problem

Using the Alexa app on your mobile phone, signed into YOUR MOM’s account:

  • Check that her Echo Show device has Communications enabled
    • Tap “Devices”- Mom’s Echo Show
      • Tap “Communications”
        • Calling & Messaging enabled
        • Announcements enabled
        • Drop-in On
  • Check that YOUR account has drop-in rights (You might be getting a message that YOU have not been granted drop-in rights)
    • Tap “Communicate”
      • Tap “person icon” in upper right
      • Scroll down to find YOUR account and Tap it
      • Be sure Allow Drop-In is enabled

Let me know if you still have issues.

Be sure to change the Wi-Fi on your Mom’s Echo Show when you get to the nursing home.

The good thing about using your mobile phone to call her is that you can test it right there rather than having to go home to an Echo Show


from Patricia Hungerbuhler (unverified) at October 24, 2020

Great article! Thank you! But I must haved missed step or I didn't turn something mom can make outgoing calls on her echo show via her google number, but when I call it from my echo show or cell phone it rolls over to voice mail. I have looked in both the alexa app with her settings and on google voice mail and can not figure out how to make call to her. Thank you for your help!!


from faengelm (member) at October 27, 2020

Hello Patrica,

I think you may have set it up correctly, but missed this part in the Test Section about how to call your Mom's Echo Show

On your Echo Show say “Alexa, call Mom” (or whatever name or nickname you put in your Alexa Contacts). (Note: the first time Alexa may ask if you want her mobile phone or Alexa devices… choose Alexa devices.)

The tricky part is that although your Mom now has a "Google Voice number", all that is really being used for is to "connect" your call through Alexa voice calling.

It's really not a phone number that you can call.

So when you talk to Alexa, be sure to say to call Mom's Alexa Devices, not her phone

Please let me know if that solves the problem so that I can share it with others





from Bob S (unverified) at October 26, 2020

I want to thank you for the incredibly helpful how-to article you posted "How to Set Up Alexa Calling for a Loved On". My mother is 92 and is in assisted living. Because of the epidemic, we have not been able to see her since March. She understands why, but I know it has been very isolating for her. A friend of mine told me video communication was possible with an Alexa device so I purchased the model with the 10 inch screen. Honestly, I don't think I would've figured it out on my own--your article was exactly what I needed--even took me through how to get a Google Voice number for mom as she does not have a cell phone. The Alexa is now up and running and my family from all over the world is able to "see" grandma again. She was able to "meet" her new great grandson last weekend for the first time--it has been a blessing and would not have happened without your help. Thank you very much for the time you put into the article--I want you to know it made a big difference for my family. God's blessings to you and yours Frank.


Bob S.
Omaha NE


from Angie  (unverified) at October 29, 2020

Hi there Frank - at last a good plain list of instructions. Thanks! Unfortunately my brother tried to set up Echo Show 10 for our mother before we'd read your article. All his contacts were transferred and now he can't delete them. He's tried blocking too, but this doesn't seem to be working either. He now wants to take his own phone number out of the device (but how?) and ask someone else to try setting up. What's your advice please?


from faengelm (member) at October 29, 2020

Hello Angie,
The first thing to do is go into your MOM’s Amazon account and remove the mobile phone number that was assigned. I’m assuming that it is your brother’s phone number

Then in your MOM’s Alexa account, you need to make some changes. You can access her account from you or your brother’s phone by deleting the Alexa app and re-installing it and logging in with your MOM’s Alexa account

Once you are in there:
•    Tap Communicate on the bottom
•    Tap the “Person” outline in the upper right
•    Tap on a contact that you want to delete
•    Tap Edit
•    Tap Delete Contact
•    Tap Delete

Sorry, I don’t know of a “bulk delete”. Also be sure when you later run my setup steps to NOT IMPORT contacts



from faengelm (member) at November 04, 2020


I just tried a quick test for deleting imported contacts that "may" work for your brother.

While he is in your mother's account, try disabling "import contacts" and see if it erases any of the ones it imported. In my testing, it erased some of them.



from Elaine Horn  (unverified) at October 31, 2020


I set up an echo show 5 following your directions (which were very helpful) for my grandmother, who lives in a nursing home. I dropped it off yesterday, and had a staff member there assist with getting her connected to WiFi. I know she is connected, because I see “recently active” under her name in my contacts. However, when we try to either drop in or video call, in both cases, the call connects, but we see no video and have no microphone. The CNA that was with her made sure the switch for the camera was toggled to “on.” Every time, whether it is me or someone else who calls, the call/drop in ends after 15 seconds. Any idea why this would be happening? It is difficult to trouble shoot over the phone with my 95 year old grandmother, whose hearing aids are currently being fixed. Other family members have tried and had the same problem. Any advice?

Thank you!



from faengelm (member) at October 31, 2020

Hello Elaine
The Echo Show 5 is a little different than the Echo Show 8 or Echo Show Gen 2 as it has TWO privacy switches.
On the top, to the left of the volume control, is one switch that is a toggle button that lights up red when the camera is disabled
On the top, to the right of the volume control, is a slider switch that changes to red when the camera is disabled
When you drop in on your Grandmother, if you don’t see her video, you should get a message “Remote Video off” below her name

Now as to why the calls are getting dropped after 15 seconds, that is a mystery.  Maybe weak Wi-Fi at her nursing home or someone is taping the screen and touching the “End” icon
If you want to see if “drop-in” is enabled on your grandmother’s Echo Show, you will need to log into her Alexa Account

On your mobile device, delete and re-install the Alexa app
•    Log in with your Grandmother’s Amazon account
•    Tap Devices
•    Tap Echo & Alexa
•    Tap on her Echo Show 5 name
•    Tap Communications
•    Be sure “Drop In” is enabled
•    Tap Communicate 
•    Tap on the “person” in upper right
•    Tap on her name
•    Under permissions- be sure “Allow Drop In” is on
•    Under “People who can drop in”- be sure your name is in there

Let me know if this solves the problem so I can share with others


from Elaine Horn (unverified) at November 04, 2020

Thank you for responding. I didn’t realize there were 2 toggle switches on top of the device. One or both of them is in the wrong position, as it does say “remote video off” below her name when I connect with the drop in.

I have an email out to the social worker at the nursing home to try to correct this. As for the drop in settings, everything is correct. I asked her if they’re still having phone/internet issues that might explain why the calls always end at 15 seconds. I am hopefully speaking with her in the next couple of days and will have more information, and I will update you after.

One other issue I’ve had is that when other family members have tried to drop in, the call has come through on my cell phone number. I had to put my number in to get the text message to verify the google voice number, but had logged out of the amazon Alexa app, so I was a little perplexed as to why this happened. Again, maybe if there are still phone/internet issues, it’s using my number as a back up if the call can’t get through to the device?

I’ll post an update when I have one. Thanks again!


from faengelm (member) at November 05, 2020

Hello Elaine,

The reason that calls are going to your phone is that your phone number was used when setting up your Mom's Alexa and is now assigned in your Mom's Alexa account. To verify this, log into your Mom's Alexa account and see what phone number is assigned... see steps below

. That is why I recommended using a free Google Voice number in the setup instructions.


Rather than doing a complete re-install, let's try this as a workaround.

* Create a free Google Voice number using YOUR mobile number to accept it

* On your phone, delete the Alexa app and reinstall it

* Login with your MOM's Alexa account

* Tap Communicate 

* Tap the "person outline" in the upper right

* Tap on your Mom's name

* Tap edit

* Tap on the mobile phone number and enter the Google Voice number you created

* Accept the text you receive from Google

You can now delete the Alexa app and reinstall as yourself

If it still doesn't work for your relatives, try logging into your MOM's Amazon account (the one where you buy stuff) and change the mobile number to the Google Voice number



from Elaine Horn (unverified) at November 06, 2020

It is all working now. It ended up being a firewall issue at the nursing home. We had to get IT involved to change some settings to allow the calls to get through. Thanks again for writing this article and for all the help. My grandmother is isolated to her room (On the 6th floor) because of covid cases on her floor, so this is huge so all the family can see and talk with her.



from faengelm (member) at April 04, 2021

Hi Elaine,

I ran into a person having the same issue in a facility.

Would it be possible for you to ask the IT staff what they did to resolve this? 




from Lisa Seiler (unverified) at August 18, 2021

Hi Frank. Did you ever find out what changes were made to the security settings?


from faengelm (member) at August 19, 2021

Hi Lisa,

I didn't get a response from Elaine on the actual solution, but I did get these requirements from Amazon Support that you can share with the facility's IT staff.

These ports need to be open on the firewall:


Please let me know if this solves your issue.


from Nick G (unverified) at November 02, 2020

great article - one question - near the top of the article the 3 different versions of echo show are pictured. The echo show (10) has the date included on the screen. I just bought a 2nd gen this week, but there is no option for date under the "wallpaper & clock" setting. Other sites indicate that there is a "home & clock" setting which has a date option - but not so on the echo show 10 (2nd gen). Please share how you got the date to show on the home screen - thx!


from faengelm (member) at November 04, 2020

Hello Nick,

That is a great question and one where Amazon doesn't provide a good answer. There is no "direct" setting  for making the "date" available on the Echo Show in "Wallpaper & Clock", except in the Echo Show 5

... it has been a requested feature for years here... Amazon Device Forum 

The clock with date will show up as the screen "rotates" through displays of selections you have made in "Settings" (if you have Rotate Continuously enabled in Settings- Home Content)

For example, on the Echo Show Gen 2 & Echo Show 8 you should see the following rotating content:    (Echo Show 5 is different)

* Time & Weather in upper left corner

* Time & Weather in upper left corner plus week's weather on center of display (if weather forecast is enabled)

* Large Time & weather & date in lower left (It should actually spend most of it's time on this screen)

You might check for software updates under Settings- Device Options- Check for Software Updates

Mine is running Fire OS (658657020)

One other thing that you could do if you just want this display-> * Large Time & weather & date in lower left , is turn turn on "Do Not Disturb".

This is avilable in "swipe down from the top". You can still talk to Alexa, but others won't be able to call you




from Carol T (member) at January 27, 2021

I just set up an Echo Show 8 for my elderly father in his room in assisted living. There is an Alexa skill called (unfortunately rather generically) "Screensaver" ( that provides a display with the time (with a.m./p.m. indicator), day of week, and date including year. This has been great, because I had also been investigating clocks that showed my Dad the time of day, day of week, etc. but now I can do both video calls and have the Echo Show's default display also be a calendar clock for him.

This Alexa skill is very configurable and you can choose background, the text formatting, etc. I chose simple white text on black background. It's very easy to read, from across the room. I tested Drop in, and the screensaver does not impede Drop In calls in any way. The only thing I've found is that occasionally the Echo Show's own Home display will resume for some unknown reason. I resolve that by creating an Alexa routine in my Dad's Alexa account (which I manage on the Alexa app on my phone) to turn on the screensaver every morning before he wakes up, just in case it has reverted to the default Home display.

Hope this helps!


from faengelm (member) at January 28, 2021

Hello Carol,

Thanks for sharing this very interesting Alexa Skill. After seeing several requests for a dementia calendar/clock, I was preparing to start work on it. This saves me the trouble! As you mentioned, the developer has included a lot of options and it appears not to interfere with other functions.

It’s great that you added a timed Alexa Routine to restart it every morning. I’m using a motion sensor to relaunch another Alexa Skill when a loved one approaches the Echo Show. Amazon does not allow developer’s access to the Echo Show camera detection logic. Here are a couple of other Alexa Routine ideas that you may find interesting.

Since you are using the Alexa App on your phone in your Dad’s account, did you notice that you can relaunch the skill on his Echo Show from there?

 In my limited testing, I found that if I ask Alexa to perform a command, such as asking for the weather, the screen saver Skill will not relaunch. This problem is the main reason I haven’t created a dementia display. I’m working on a way to relaunch Skills.

While spoken commands will stop the screensaver Skill, it appears that the “Home Content” rotating display does not interrupt it. I recommend turning off there everything except weather and “Shared With You” photos to reduce confusion.

While I could create Alexa Routines to run on every hour, I found the motion sensor to be easier to implement.

Thanks again from sharing the information on this Alexa Skill.



from Carol T (member) at January 28, 2021

Hi Frank, thank you for the info you shared about Alexa requests stopping the screensaver. I've disabled a lot of Alexa features and don't anticipate my Dad using the Alexa voice control features, as he has dementia and although he does speak English, it's not his native language. Due to COVID restrictions I haven't been allowed in the room with him at the same time, so there's no opportunity for me to do any demo or coaching with voice controls. 

I did make a new routine just to restart the screensaver manually either by voice command or "playing" the routine via the Alexa app. That has worked better than the scheduled restart at sunrise.

I haven't found any information about the Echo Show's motion detection. Are you able to create routines based on Echo Show detecting motion? I would love to find out more about that.

Thank you!



from faengelm (member) at January 28, 2021

Hello Carol,

Since we don't have access to the motion detection built into Echo Show, I used a physical motion sensor. See the Smart Home Triggers section of this article

Since the Echo Flex is a "wall plug" mounted type device, its location may not be suitable for detecting your Dad's motion. You could try one of the solutions I used:

1. A tabletop outlet with the Echo Flex plugged in there

2. A USB extension cable that supports data transfer

Both of these methods require some hands-on installation and mounting tricks.

There are some battery-operated motion sensors that would be easier to mount, but they require adding a "hub" which is typically Ethernet connected to a router

I have one other method for you. Namely, a push button. If you think that would work for your Dad,  see the article linked above

BTW, Alexa supports other languages:

* Devices- select device

* Language



from faengelm (member) at January 02, 2022

Hello Carol T.

I have also been using this Alexa Skill for about a year and just yesterday I received a message that is no longer available.

I haven't found a suitable replacement



from Carol T (member) at January 18, 2022

Hi Frank, Yes, I have just realized as well that this skill is no longer enabled on my list, and indeed seems no longer to be available.
I have spent some time searching through available Alexa skills, but cannot find anything similar. There are many Alexa skills that will speak today's date, but I'd really love to see a date/time clock display like the one that "Screensaver" used to provide.


from Laura Schillmoeller (unverified) at November 03, 2020

I have an Echo Show and got one for my elderly mother. I have it configured so that I can do a drop in video call into my MOM's Echo Show (thanks for explaining!). My sister does not have an Echo Show but has the Alexa app on her iPhone. I understand that she can make a video call using the Alexa app to my mom's Echo Show, but can my sister "drop in" using JUST the Alexa app? Or does my sister need a Show for drop-in capabilities?


from faengelm (member) at November 04, 2020

Hello Laura,

As long as your Mom has drop in enabled and has allowed your sister permission, your sister will be able to drop in using her iPhone



from Debra Smith (unverified) at November 15, 2020

Thank you so much for this explanation that was easy to follow and allow me to set the Echo Show 5 with Google voice up for my family member in a nursing home. Extremely Helpful!!


from Janice L., Lincoln,Nebraska (unverified) at November 16, 2020

I was able to set up her Alexa Echo 8 thanks to your instructions!! I used a google voice number. I want to load family photos for a rotating wall paper but I can NOT figure out how to do it from either. iPhone or my Amazon photo acct. Any suggestion? Thanks! Janice


from faengelm (member) at November 19, 2020

Hello Janice,

Adding the rotating wallpaper can be done, but it's a bit tricky. I will be writing a detailed step-by-step article under my column on this soon. The first requirement is that your mom MUST have an Amazon Photos app account. If she doesn't have a mobile device, you could temporarily set that up on your own device using her Amazon login. If you don't use the Amazon Photos app yourself, you could continue to use her's to post photos.

However, if you or a family member has an Amazon Prime account, you could all post photos to the Family Vault

Now on your Mom's Echo Show, all you have to do is:

•    Swipe down from the top of the screen
•    Settings
•    Tap Wallpaper & Clock
•    Tap Amazon Photos
o    Tap Family Vault, if you will be using Family Vault
o    Tap Your Photos, if you are NOT using the Family Vault



from Jennifer G (unverified) at November 24, 2020

Thank you for the clear and concise article - this worked perfectly for my parents in assisted living and the joy I heard from them after having their first video chat with their son and granddaughter in Shanghai was absolutely priceless.
I appreciate the time and effort you put into this article!
Jennifer G.
Big Lake, MN


from Lance (unverified) at November 27, 2020

Wow - this came at a great time. We just got a Show for a relative and I was close but couldn't quite get it working. Thank you!!


from Diane Cargin (unverified) at November 27, 2020

A few of the contacts I entered into my mom's Alexa app do not have the "Permissions" section in their info when I click on them, so I cannot allow drop in. Most do but I have two that don't. Any ideas?


from faengelm (member) at November 27, 2020

Hello Diane,

I believe you will find that they have not setup Alexa Calling in their Alexa App.

This requires that they have a phone that can accept an SMS message with a code to set this up, If they don't have that, they could try the Google Voice option I described in the article

As a test, you could have them try to place an Alexa Call to you

Let me know if this doesn't solve the problem




from Allynn (member) at November 28, 2020

I just got an Echo 5 for me and one for my Dad.  He has an Amazon account (I have access to it) but not a smart phone (though I could set up my old one for him).  He lives about 25 miles away and I visit often.  I plan to use the drop-in feature to video chat with him daily.

My question is this: Why would I want to set up his Echo on his own Amazon account rather than just putting it on mine?  He will never try to add or configure anything on it; that will be down to me.  I'm hoping he will play Jeopardy and other games but I doubt he will listen to music.  He might want to call his sister with it but she is in my contact list too. 

I'm quite tech-savvy but I'm looking for the easiest set-up to maintain, not the most flexible.  I've been Googling for a few days now and I'm more confused than ever!  Can someone just break down the pros and cons of sharing an account versus setting up two seperate accounts?  Thanks!


from faengelm (member) at November 28, 2020

Hello Allynn,

You bring up an interesting point, as it is very possible to do what you are saying. It’s just like adding another Echo Show in a different room in your home. For example, if you added an Echo Show to your Kitchen, you could say either of these commands to an Echo Show in your Living Room.

“Alexa, drop in on Kitchen Echo Show” or “Alexa, call Kitchen Echo Show”

So just set up the Echo Show in your home, assign it a name for your Dad, and then test calling it. Then when you bring it to your Dad’s house, just change the Wi-Fi settings

You are right, that he will be able to call his sister, but of course, it will indicate that you are making the call.

Since he is on your account, you can easily and Alexa Skills and create Alexa Routines for him

Ok, that all sounds pretty neat, so what are the downsides of having him on your Alexa account?

  1. Any reminders and calendar events you set for him will also show up on your devices
  2. Since this is on your Amazon Account, any commands that he misspeaks could turn on/off smart devices (if you have any) in your home or even order things by voice, if you have that enabled. I know that kids in families that have multiple echo devices enjoy pranking their parents with lighting or TV controls.
  3. Since he won’t have his own Alexa account, you can’t use the Alexa Care Hub features which can allow you to monitor his wake-up time, if that’s important. Alexa Care Hub (
  4. The lack of his own Alexa Account means you can’t set up Emergency Contact calling. This is not 911 calling, but it allows him to say a simple request for help and have it call your number. Help: What Is an Alexa Emergency Contact?

If you decide to set him up on his own Alexa account, he won’t need a smartphone. Just follow the steps in the article to use the free Google voice number



from Allynn (member) at December 01, 2020

Thanks, Frank. This is exactly the kind of reply I needed!   I think I've come up with a solution.  How does this sound:

I'm going to set up his Echo with his own Amazon account and mine with my own account (for all the reasons you give) BUT I'm also going to keep my main computer logged into Alexa with his account.  I don't think I would use my computer for anything Alexa but it would be very convenient to have that identified as part of his account. 

I'm also giving him my old smart phone (he has a flip that he never uses) and I've set that up with Alexa and the BaldPhone interface. Check is out.  It is very cool! 

One more thing - Amazon has the Echo Flex - Plug-in mini smart speaker with Alexa for sale for $9.99 and I've picked up two of those for him; one for each bathroom just in case of emergency.  I just have to make sure he understands that he needs to say "Alexa call Allynn Mary".  That is the very first Alexa lesson!

Finally here's my tip:  I named my dad's wifi network the same as my home wifi with the same password and everything.  His smart watch picks mine up as soon as he walks in the door and everything I set up at my house works at his with no fuss.

I'm really loving this site and I'm learning so much!  I can't wait to pass this on to my Library patrons!



from faengelm (member) at December 01, 2020

Hello Allynn,

I really like your solution about setting the wireless networks the same, and thanks for the tip on the Baldphone.

I have done a few "friendly" phone interfaces for seniors using Samsung Easy Mode and Google Action Blocks. I am working on a review article for Oscar Family for Seniors, which also gives a senior interface to IOS/Android tablets and phones. Stay tuned. :)

The Echo Flex is a great choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and garages where it's plugged in above a countertop. It's neat in that it doesn't require a power adapter or cord.

The calling for help phrase becomes easier when you enable Emergency Contact (What Is an Alexa Emergency Contact?)

He can just say any of these

  • "Call for help."
  • "Call my emergency contact."
  • "Call my contact for help."
  • "Call my help contact."



from Lynn A (unverified) at November 30, 2020

Hi Frank,
I have followed your instructions setting up Alexa with no cell phone, using a google voice number. My 92 yr. old dad is able to call out (voice only), but no one can call in, either voice or video. I have set up all of his contacts (on my phone, his account). He has an Echo Show (2nd generation).


from faengelm (member) at November 30, 2020

Hello Lynn,

It appears that Alexa Calling is not working. I’ll need you to check a few things. You can do this from your own home, on your own mobile device

In the Alexa app

  • Tap More
  • Tap Settings
  • Scroll down and sign out of your account
  • Sign back in with your Dad’s account

The first thing to notice is if it asks you to add a mobile number to the account. If it does, it means that the Google voice number did not get in there and you will need to add it now.

  • Continue to sign in as your Dad

You should NOT get challenged to verify Dad’s phone number. If it does, it means that the Google voice number did not get in there and you will need to add it now.

  • There is no need to teach Alexa your voice- skip
  • Tap Communicate
  • Tap the person icon in the upper right
  • Tap on your Dad’s name
  • It should show his Google Voice number there
  • It should also show “People who can drop in”
    • If it doesn’t show anyone, use the back arrow in the upper left to add some contacts

Don’t forget to log out as you Dad and back in as yourself on the Alexa app to test

Let me know what you find out



from Charles W. (unverified) at December 01, 2020

Thank you for this guide! I am having a difficult time getting set up. I set up a Google Voice number with my cell phone but every time we try to contact Dad's Echo Show my cell phone rings. Help!


from Charles W. (unverified) at December 01, 2020

Well, somehow it starting working correctly! Thanks again for this write up!


from faengelm (member) at December 02, 2020

Hello Charles,

I think the problem may have been some confusion on Alexa's part about whether you wanted to call his phone or Alexa device. The first few times you use Alexa to call him, it will ask you which one you want. Then, it learns your preference and will use it.


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