Technology in care today
By Hannah Liberman
Thanks to revolutionary technological advances we are living longer, and perhaps as an outcome of those same advances, are having less children. The math is simple – more older adults and less working hands. Those in long term care have heard the alarm bells for decades, and with 9 out of 10 seniors preferring to age at home, this trend is not likely to reverse or slow down. This raises the question, how can we match supply to demand, and not compromise on quality of care? This is the question keeping home care agency owners up at night, and should worry us as well because hey, one day we’ll all be there too.
The systems we have set up for the aging population which typically remove older adults from their homes and communities are costly and don’t always address their emotional needs. We need to understand that the “third stage of life” can now last over 30 years, and we as a society need to pave the way towards a more age-friendly world, increasing productivity and quality of life for seniors.
Soaring health care costs and concerns about public and private pension programs and retirement funds are also a source of concern. When these programs were established, they always depended on a growing younger population fueling the economy, and covering the costs of older generations. This burden will increasingly be placed on fewer shoulders, and can not be allowed to reach a breaking point. By 2050, a quarter of the population will be 65 and older, and with most seniors preferring to age at home, we will be not only hard-pressed to fund care, but to find enough working hands to provide care.
Compared to other industries, technology was late to impact the senior care sector. Businesses have been running on artificial intelligence for close to a decade now, leveraging automation and precision to solve critical challenges and drive efficiencies.
In order to manage the impending increase in demand for care, and to improve quality of life for seniors, we will have to turn to technology, in particular to artificial intelligence. Creative AI solutions that empower seniors, allow them to feel valued, and remain safe while maintaining independence and dignity, will help us rise to the challenge of global population aging.
What do current AI systems offer for the longterm care industry?
Today artificial intelligence is rapidly finding use in every step of the elderly care pathway. Caregivers and health experts are confidently offloading parts of the senior care pathways to artificial intelligence, enabling better care in the elderly’s home. Key advantages include improvements in care quality and impactful resolution of care staff shortages.
Today’s agetech industry presents diverse, innovative solutions that enable seniors to confidently age in place and enjoy the comfort and independence that comes with precise and timely caregiver support. The time is ripe for revolutionizing senior care and improving the quality of life of the elderly. Below is an overview of the leading solutions that leverage AI and machine learning to improve the elderly’s well-being and quality of life.
Fujitsu is one of the companies making ripples with AI-driven “aging in place” solutions. The company’s better-living platform is a holistic gerontechnology solution that combines the power of AI, 5G, and IoT in health care monitoring and remote consultation.
Caregivers looking to improve in-home care quality can leverage the Fujitsu gerontechnology to strengthen connections and create better environments for seniors at home. The AI-based platform delivers audio analysis capabilities to detect the health status of patients. Further, the platform empowers medical experts to remotely monitor the health of their elderly patients, which reduces the need for in-person clinical visits.
Alexa, the world-famous virtual assistant, has received a makeover as a senior care living solution. Amazon recently launched Care Hub, an Alexa add-on that turns the mobile app into a solution that can help family members and home care providers keep an eye on the elderly.
Caregivers and family members using the platform receive instant alerts when the senior loved one calls for help. Care Hub may be a practical solution for caregivers to stay in touch with the needs of seniors to help them age in place safely and comfortably. CareHub is just one of the many solutions optimizing virtual assistants and transforming them into virtual nurses and virtual caregivers for seniors that prefer to age at home.
Apple Watch Fall Detection
The Apple Watch Fall Detection feature relies on Accelerometer and Gyroscope sensors on the Apple Watch. It uses data from the sensors to analyze the wrist trajectory and impact acceleration paired with a custom algorithm to detect a hard fall.
When you have a hard fall, it automatically enables an emergency alarm and hand vibrations on the watch.
After sending the alert, it waits for the wearer to respond- you can choose to call the emergency services or dismiss the alert by tapping Close, the crown, or “I’m OK” on the screen. According to reports, more than one-third of persons 65 years of age or older fall each year. Fall Detection can be a lifesaver for elders as they’re highly vulnerable to such falls, especially if no one’s around to take care of them.
Vayyar Imaging Ltd. is an Israeli semiconductor company that produces 4D imaging radar sensors. While these sensors were initially developed to screen for early-stage breast cancer, they now have a number of applications, including senior care.
Vayyar Care – Vayyar’s unique solution for seniors uses a camera free solution that provides round-the-clock protection for seniors at home.The contactless, wall-mounted sensors alert responders when a senior has fallen and isn’t able to push a button or pull a cord to summon help. Vayyar will be available as part of Alexa Together, a new subscription service from Amazon designed to facilitate safe aging in place.
If Vayyar Care detects a fall, it will contact the Alexa Together Urgent Response emergency helpline. Alexa will also send a notification to the designated caregiver.
Sensi.ai is the world’s first in-home virtual caregiver. The platform provides audio based trend analytics that provide insights and care recommendations that help mitigate risk, preventing the bad and enhancing the good. The virtual caregiver is not meant to replace physical caregivers, but rather to extend the reach of this workforce.
Through Sensi, agencies, caregivers and families alike are empowered to make data-driven decisions regarding care, and agencies can provide the highest quality of care, tailored to each older adult’s unique needs. With Sensi, seniors are now, more than ever before, able to age on their own terms, in the comfort of their own homes, with the dignity and respect that they deserve. For agencies this means living up to their “mission” – which is enabling older adults to age in place as they wish, as well as the ability to grow unhindered by staff shortages. For families this means increased peace of mind and knowing that their loved one is safe and getting the highest level of care.
What does the future have in store for AI and the world of care?
While the emerging dominance of AI has been evident for anyone following Elon Musk on twitter in the past few years, the Covid-19 pandemic has made ever more clear the need for remote AI solutions, especially when it comes to the aging population.
We will continue to see rapid growth in AI health tools – used for early detection and diagnosis, to ward off loneliness through AI companions, and for the improvement of care management.
Each individual application of AI in the age sphere will be important, but the true key toward implementing AI in senior care is data. The most important development in building effective, accurate AI tools for seniors is gathering a data-set based on the unique characteristics, needs and preferences of seniors.