By the year 2030, 20% of the US population will be aged 65 years or older, and mostly, retired. This rapid ageing demographic will directly affect social, economic, and health outcomes for the economy. As time goes by, healthcare delivery pathways need to be readjusted, keeping in mind the prevalence of chronic diseases, comorbidities and, polypharmacy (simultaneous use of multiple drugs) requirements of the elderly. Having said that, it is estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of healthcare providers, ranging from 40,800 to 104,900 in 2030. To elevate some of the stress on the healthcare system Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used to assist care-pathway. However, AI can also be used for more than just improving their care-pathway and here are a few examples:
- At home, health-monitoring is always a need for the elders. Biotricity and CarePredict are companies that focus on healthcare technology such as using AI for biometric (statistical analysis to biological data) purposes. Biometric technologies aim to remotely monitor the well-being of seniors and detect early health issues.
- The disproportion of elders to caregivers is increasing every year, making it necessary for virtual assistants to assist their needs in a better way. You may have seen them or even use them daily with your devices. Some examples can be Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana and Google assistant. They have been found very useful at giving medical reminders, socially connecting with the world, lifestyle tips and reporting on their daily activities.
- Virtual companion Robots like Catalia Health’s Mabu, Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ, CT Asia Robotics’ Dinsow and Reiken’s Robobear are virtual home assistants for elderly. They mostly focus on seniors who live independently to encourage them to be more active by using many different methods, such as giving memory jogging games. They could be a companion for seniors, like an actual pet dog minus the maintenance of cleaning it up. Since people are becoming more adapted to technology, some are now comfortable to communicate as in the robot can speak to you in addition to connecting with the elder’s family.
- One of the other interesting uses of AI is to understand the essence of ageing and thereby, form a method to delaying the process. Researchers are using deep learning to understand the fundamental of all ageing and develop drugs that can cure age-related diseases. Thankfully, after many years of research, it has been found that A.I has can revolutionize how elders can live more comfortably and independently.
Smart Assistance Technology
What is Smart Assistance Technology?
Smart Assistance Technology (SAT) are devices that are built specifically to help people in their daily activities. Some basic everyday uses could be locking/unlocking the doors and opening/ closing blinds and windows. But the question is, how can these technologies perform accurately only by using a User Interface (UI) or voice control?
User Interface is the ability to navigate and control on-screen, starting from a point (e.g. your home) to a point of destination. Voice control, it is practically the same as UI, but the user has the ability to verbalize everything.
Smart Monitoring Technology
Being constantly worried about the wellbeing of elderly parents can be frustrating, especially for those whose parents have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Due to the seniors’ limited capabilities, living independently without any help may cause incidents. As an example, seniors may leave water tap running, or more dangerously, leave their stoves and ovens on for too long.
Smart monitoring technologies are specifically built to help detect the unusual use of the appliance. Appliance-monitoring systems can send alerts to the seniors and their caregivers when an unusual activity is detected, giving them a quick alert. Many of these systems offer a remote off switch which makes home-monitoring active and safe. Unlike smart assistance technologies which are active systems and require senior’s command (e.g. voice command), the smart monitoring systems are often passive and do not require constant interaction of seniors with the technology. Ideally, smart monitoring technologies must run in the background and only require individual`s attention when unusual behavior are detected.
Veebar Tech is an example of a smart-monitoring solution, which allows individuals and their caregivers to be alerted about their surroundings. While the technology is in the pilot testing process, the technology developed by Veebar Tech promises a various range of monitoring in an affordable way. Veebar Tech is using AI, such that their system could adapt to an individual`s behaviour and make monitoring personalized.
Author: Saarangan Jeevananthan (Humber College)