There is no shortage of news on the rising popularity of technology in senior living; everything from virtual reality to “care bots” is making its way into older adults’ health care and residential areas. The Guardian now reports on another aspect of technology, artificial intelligence, and how that is the future of elder care. Artificial intelligence adds another layer of sophistication to existing systems. For example, a sensor may detect terabytes of data, and its AI feature would allow the computer to detect a pattern, and thus an action.
The success of AI-based technologies can be found in their numbers; in late 2019, a startup company called SafelyYou installed fall detection technology with AI in 23 senior living apartments. One unobtrusively placed camera constantly monitored the scene in each apartment, and the community’s executive director reported an 80% reduction in hospital trips. Although the success of such technology seems apparent, The Guardian reports on a key barrier to widespread AI-based technology: acceptance by older adults. This is with good reason, as the sensors can sometimes confuse quick movements for falls, and thus trigger alerts that can frighten a resident. Also, there is a level of intrusion one may feel when surrounded by cameras or audio sensors. This is and continues to be a wakeup call for CEOs in the business of AI-based technologies; technology that uses motion sensors is likely to be much more easily accepted than cameras. Similarly, these technologies must consider cultural biases as well. For example, one AI system that detects eating motions must be altered to understand cultural nuances, such as eating with chopsticks instead of forks.
As our society begins to infuse technologies with AI, as well as invent new AI-based technologies, older adults and senior living providers are finding that a human touch is still needed to work out the shortcomings.
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Corbyn Z. The future of elder care is here – and it’s artificial intelligence. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/03/elder-care-artificial-intelligence-software. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 8, 2021.