How Artificial Intelligence Can Help the Elderly

Technological innovations designed to help seniors live longer, more fulfilling lives are starting to catch on—everything from companion robots to smart devices that can help monitor, alert, track and support our growing senior community.

According to recent estimates, the population of adults 85 and older in the U.S. will roughly triple between 2015 and 2060, making it the fastest growing age group over this time period. At the same time, there is a projected decline in the working-age population, meaning there will be fewer people to support the growing elderly population, financially and otherwise.

It is also estimated that the costs to provide health care may more than double between the ages of 70 and 90, depending on the region. Virtual home assistants and portable diagnostic devices may be able to help provide better elder care, help control medical costs—and allow more seniors to stay in their homes longer.

Wearable Tech and Implant Technology: Many seniors suffer from cardiac ailments, diabetes and hypertension. Wearable tech includes cardiac and biometric sensors, and smart glucometers. They can track vital signs and send emergency emails or texts in real time to care providers if something is off track. Wearables can also detect low levels of movement and abnormal sleeping habits, allowing care teams to track behavior patterns and check on patients if needed.

Medication Adherence Tools: Most seniors take several medications. As they age, remembering to take everything at the appropriate time can become a challenge. Missing doses can exacerbate an existing medical condition and can lead to hospitalization. There are several products currently available that remind patients when to take their medication and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, which helps the healthcare industry save on costs.

Portable Diagnostic Devices: Seniors need to have biomarkers tested more frequently to monitor existing conditions, diagnose new ones and check on overall well-being. With portable machines so small that they can be stored at home, seniors can perform blood and urine tests at home instead of having to visit a pathology lab for the tests. The devices can then store, process and instantly send the data to care providers for analysis. The added convenience means seniors can perform diagnostic tests more frequently, helping to diagnose conditions and begin treatment sooner, preventing complications and saving avoidable healthcare costs.

Personal Emergency Responders: Personal Emergency responders can detect a fall, or alert family members if a loved one with dementia has moved outside the specified or protected living area. They can also offer navigational assistance to help a senior return home safely. Remote monitoring lets caregivers keep an eye on their charges while they are away at work or running errands. One concept that goes beyond fall detection is that of ActiveProtective’s smart belt, which detects falls and deploys air bags to prevent fall-related injuries, then uses Bluetooth technology to trigger an alert to designated emergency contacts.

Disability Assistance Tools: There are a variety of smart products designed to help with disabilities. For example, a hearing aid from Oticon features Bluetooth connectivity to a smart phone for calls or streaming music, and the ability to control volume and switch television programs with a smart phone app. Another solution for sensory- and cognitive-impaired seniors is Nominet’s PIPS that helps manage daily routines. The customizable colored buttons installed in seniors’ residences flash until the task that patients are being remined of is performed and the button is pressed by the user. Pressing a button activates the next button in sequence. Reminders may include daily tasks such as brushing teeth or eating a meal, or medical tasks like taking medication.