Tech companies are making significant investments in AI and we can expect to see it begin to shape our lives in meaningful ways across a number of industries. The senior living industry is no exception.
How AI Will Impact Senior Living
The senior living industry can anticipate some real changes in coming years due to the ways companies and consumers will be able to use AI tech.
Here are some of the main changes to expect:
1. It will help prevent falls.
In addition to helping with disease prevention and treatment, AI technology can help with one of the biggest risks seniors face: falls. As you age, falls become both more common and more disastrous. Broken bones take longer to heal and time spent in the hospital exposes you to other germs and illnesses and makes it difficult to stay active.
Hospitals, nursing homes and senior living communities can use AI technology to better track which patients are at a higher risk of falls and when they most need help from staff to prevent them. The El Camino hospital has already taken this approach, using predictive analytics to bring falls in the hospital down by 39%. Their tech takes information from patients’ health records and how often they call nurses to figure out which patients need the most attention from staff at particular times of the day. Having help right when they need it makes a big difference for patients otherwise at risk of falling.
2. It will help researchers better identify behavioral issues and trends.
As technology is able to collect more and more information about a wide variety of things like how people drive, how they move through their homes, and how they sleep, researchers are able to put those different pieces of information together to create larger pictures of what makes seniors happy and healthy.
Sensors and smart technology can track how seniors move around the house and go about their day, helping family members and researchers see trends that relate to general safety and wellbeing. For example, if a sensor in your home alerts your loved ones to a tendency to forget to turn off the oven, you could buy an oven that automatically turns itself off when you’re done using it. Researchers could use that same kind of information in aggregate to encourage more products that help solve the problem and a larger adoption of those products by the people most likely to need them.
3. It will help seniors make healthy behavioral changes.
A lot of the points up until now are about how AI will help medical professionals, researchers and senior living professionals learn information they can use to improve seniors’ lives. But seniors also have control over their own lives. Individual decisions and habits play a big role in how happy and healthy you’ll be as you age.
AI technology can be used to help seniors make healthier decisions with products designed to use data on trends about what works and doesn’t work for specific individuals. These types of recommendations can also be targeted to each person in a way they’re most likely to respond to.
4. It will improve health outcomes.
When you combine the abilities of AI technology to analyze vast amounts of data to find trends with technology that monitors health, like heart monitors and wearables, there’s a lot of potential. This technology will be able to see relationships between minor symptoms we might not notice and the larger health issues they indicate.
In other words, AI could look at how things like your activity level, blood sugar and heart rate all relate to what data says about health issues and outcomes. Researchers can start to make connections that help us understand common diseases better and doctors will have an easier time matching your specific symptoms and vital signs to accurate diagnoses since they’ll have more information to work with.
All of that adds up to better preventative health care, earlier diagnoses of issues that do arise and treatment plans that produce better results. Today’s seniors will likely spend less time in hospitals and nursing homes as a result and enjoy improved mobility and quality of life for longer.
5. It will take over some caregiver responsibilities.
Millions of people provide care to seniors that can’t manage daily tasks on their own anymore – some of them are paid for it, others make personal and professional sacrifices to make it work for family members. For all of them, caregiving requires a lot of energy, time and work.
Artificial intelligence can’t entirely remove the need for human caregivers, but it can be used to take some of the more basic tasks off their plate. A few robots that provide basic caregiving tasks have already shown up on the scene and AI technology will ensure that any tools like these that families use will be able to learn.
Being able to program technology for basic tasks is helpful, but the technology that can learn what works best for each individual senior is better. One example of such technology, ElliQ, can learn if the senior they help responds better to more assertive or polite prompts when it comes to reminders to go for a walk or take their meds.
Seniors can expect to benefit in significant ways from the development and use of AI in the coming years, both from the changes described here and others we don’t even know to anticipate yet.