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April 2023

Observations about AI and older adults

It’s a scary time to think about AI. Healthcare workers are nervous, professional caregivers think it’s too early. To read the media, reporters are sharing their anxiety. AI is terrifying about the possibility of making people (and journalists) obsolete or initiating accidental destruction and havoc.  Doctors worry about the elimination of whole specialties like radiology and educators are in a tizzy trying to determine the real author of student projects. The media frets frequently about mistakes made by ChatGPT.   But the situation is vastly different in the older adult marketplace. It is a space that benefits greatly from AI’s capability to learn from accumulated data, combined with its ability to predict possibilities like Alzheimer's disease based on that data, informing caregivers, families, and other stakeholders.  Other countries with serious caregiving labor shortages see the possibilities – and if anything the US senior care industry is late to the party. 

Five years of AgeTech trend reports – worth a reminder

Monitoring the AgeTech market, one major trend at a time.  One of the key roles of an industry analyst is to detect and predict new trends that will make a difference in the lives of older adults. Consider the five year sequence of reports below, from oldest to most recent, from the introduction of voice tech to the Covid-driven rise of telehealth to smart homes to wearables to sensors to the current research underway (stay tuned!) about The Future of AI and Older Adults. The uptake of ‘voice first’ (versus ‘screen and keyboard first’) technologies in 2018 was a very big deal. It now seems obvious that people expect multiple modalities interaction with a technology. Now 100 million Americans own at least one smart speaker – now AI technology will enable the next generation of user interactions. Here are those reports:

Chatbots and conversational AI offer help with finding care

Chatbots can be helpful to older adults and families. As part of research on the Future of AI and Older Adults, interviewees are talking about the potential role of chatbots – and why they should matter. Not surprisingly, a search for ‘chatbots and older adults’ reveals research studies targeting those aged 60+, startup investment, for example, Lena, which evolved into Lena Health for scheduling appointments, and a small study about what makes a compelling chatbot. But for older adults  or families who hesitant about searching for information or frustrated with online sites or call trees, chatbots can be the ideal solution. They can also boost tech confidence and user self-sufficiency. Although the real purpose of chatbots is to save response center labor and boost efficiency – they should help the user get what they need.

Did you miss one? Five Aging and Health Tech blog posts March 2023

The future of AI and older adults is now. The hype about ChatGPT and its peers has revolutionized the tech world. And it is clear from current research that this revolution isn’t temporary, nor is it even sudden. Though with its initial user calculation at 100 million, it now appears the fastest growing 'consumer' application in history. And it is fair to say that the applications of it are making its way into the world of older adults, this AARP article describes its uses for older adults in generating a letter to contest a medical bill. And it notes the ability to ‘provide companionship, offer mental stimulation, share stories and experiences, and suggest hobbies and activities.’ Although the article claimed on Feb 28 that there was no mobile version, Bing Chat has this interactive chat built in, including support for multiple languages) and available for any smartphone. And ChatGPT can be accessed through any mobile browser. Here are four other blog posts from March to think about: 

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