As the baby boomer generation prepares to enter retirement, both the healthcare industry and senior living communities around the nation are beginning to prepare for the dramatic increase in demand of these services. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people aged 60 years or older will increase from 12% to 22% by 2050. This influx in the senior population will demand an increase in healthcare providers and staff, such as caregivers and personal care attendants. Many senior care facilities are already experiencing a demand in healthcare providers exceeding supply by nearly 10%. To reduce the gap in supply, many industry experts are developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that will provide care for seniors in various ways.
Artificial intelligence refers to any theory or development of computer systems designed to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as decision-making and speech recognition. Given the increase in adults aged 65 and over, healthcare providers are beginning to utilize AI technologies to track patient information, diagnose diseases, and help treat patients more efficiently. Forbes magazine recently investigated new AI technologies that are being utilized by the healthcare industry for the treatment and care of the elderly. Here are a few ways AI is beginning to change the way we care for seniors.
AI Uses in Healthcare
Home Health Monitoring– New developments in AI are allowing patients to receive care from healthcare providers without making a trip to the doctor’s office. Companies like Careangel are making this possible by offering virtual doctor’s visits through voice-based virtual assistants. In addition, wearable devices can detect changes in activity and behavior patterns that could forecast a health issue to be addressed early. IBM researchers are developing technologies that mirror the care of a private nurse through movement sensors in hallways, flush detectors in toilets, and bed sensors for sleep monitoring.
Smart device assisted fall detection
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults. To combat this issue, AI devices are being developed to detect falls and fall risks. Starkey has developed a fall detector within its hearing aid, while other companies are developing sensors within smart phone devices that will detect falls and alert emergency services.
As baby boomers age, most will require additional care. With the demand of healthcare providers exceeding supply, AI is being developed to close the gap. Robotic helpers will be able to provide daily assistance and companionship. Some robots, like Catalina Health’s Mabu, are conversational robots that can collect data to help with diagnosis and treatment. Intuition Robotics have developed ElliQ, which can hold conversations while also reminding patients to take their medications and lead physical activities to promote physical and emotional wellbeing.
Not only will AI technologies work to meet the needs of seniors, but it will also allow researchers and scientists to collect data needed for the development of anti-aging products. AI is assisting with research being conducted about the biological process of aging and how the food we eat impacts our ability to age well.
While artificial intelligence is being used by healthcare industry professionals and researchers to help change the process of aging, it’s also being widely utilized in the home. Virtual personal assistants, like Amazon’s Echo, are becoming increasingly popular for older adults because of their many benefits from physical health to entertainment.
Practical Uses of Echo Devices
While new technology can be intimidating for some, many older adults are starting to rely on virtual personal assistants to help complete basic daily tasks. These devices are user friendly and especially helpful for seniors with low vision or hearing loss. From checking the weather to reminding you to take medication, Amazon’s Echo can help ease the aging process in many ways.
Recent research suggests that listening to music can actually improve brain-processing speed in older adults. Additional research suggests that music can help provoke memories for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Now, with virtual personal assistants becoming a common household item, music can be played just by giving your device a simple command.
Keep track of lists
Managing daily tasks can be difficult for anyone, especially for those experiencing age-related memory loss. The Amazon Echo makes creating a to-do list simple and organized. The Echo has the ability to categorize different lists, such as a grocery list or a to-do list. You can recall, edit, or mark completed items on your list by giving your device a command.
Alert emergency services
Your virtual personal assistance can be connected to your smart phone and enabled to make phone calls by accessing your contacts. The Ask My Buddy skill allows your phone to send alerts to chosen contacts on command. In the event of a fall or injury and without access to your cell phone, you can command your Echo to call your specified “buddies.” Echo can’t make direct 911 calls, but with the help of an additional device, Echo Connect, your virtual personal assistant will be able to contact emergency services directly.
Manage your calendar
The Echo gives you the ability to organize your week and day by managing your calendar. You can add appointments and activities to your calendar by giving a simple command like, “Add an event to my calendar.” Your device also has the ability to remind you what is on your schedule for the day.
You can use your Echo to set medication reminders, which can be helpful if you have trouble remembering to take them or if you have several medications. You can choose which day and time to receive your alert. In addition, you can program other alerts into your device, such as feeding your dog or watering your plants.
Your echo isn’t only for practical everyday use, it can also be used for fun. You can play trivia games and stream audiobooks and podcasts. Echo can even guide you in simple exercises by adding skills such as EngAGE or 7-minute Workout.
At Maplewood Senior Living, we know the great benefits that can come with utilizing innovative technology. Virtual personal assistants can be set up for residents to learn about upcoming activities, play music, ask questions, and seek help when needed. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.