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Did you miss one? Aging and Health Blog Posts from May 2023

The AI hype cycle is distracting everyone. That is inclusive of very large companies. And doubts continue to emerge in the media that make it seem like we are in the slough of despond, otherwise known as the low point of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Note the concerted efforts to find and publicize deficiencies and mistakes, reinforcing the premise that it is too early for benefits across industries like senior living or home care. But it’s not too early, as the new report, The Future of AI and Older Adults 2023, points out through interviews with those deploying conversational AI and machine learning technology today.  And from the other May blog posts:

Your platform, yourself – the splintering of interaction tool choices

Rant on. So there is an upcoming meeting to attend.  Now let’s see -- will it be conducted in Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, Webex, GoToMeeting or something else?  Will the meeting invite be visible to my calendar, which has Google’s 500 million users – or do I need to place myself on the calendar of the person who asked to speak with me (10 million users) and request that it also be sent to my calendar?  Will it be a short Zoom meeting, cut off abruptly at 40 minutes because the participant leading only has the free version? Or will it be a conference-specific event management technology in which all interactions will be buried inside the must-look-at software?

Older Adults will benefit from AI -- sooner rather than later

AI and older adults – powerful if enabled. There are few limits to the possible benefits of AI in its many forms, conversational, generative, Chatbots and more. Some say that we are in The Golden Age of AI. But constraints faced now and in coming years are beginning to emerge from public and political debates about privacy, ethics and proposed regulation. They will be coupled with the lagging pace of institutions, particularly healthcare, to change aging systems that can help realize the benefits. Within five years, however, it is inevitable that the role of this tech revolution in our lives and those of older adults will enable changes in society’s focus, occurring in and across multiple domains. The following domains will add AI (via voice or other interaction modes) to services, including:

A decade later -- Next Generation Response Systems have arrived

The more things change in the PERS/medical alert industry… Long ago (10 years, to be exact), a survey report plus future market predictions was published.  From website review, the cash cow world of medical alert devices and recurring revenue appears from the outside to be largely unchanged. On the LifeAlert website, the woman is still falling and can’t get up. Medical Guardian also informs that every 11 seconds, 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ experience a fall-related injury. The National Council on Aging site, NCOA features medical alert vendor comparisons in which the vendor earns a commission if purchased through the site. Vendors still claim a that market penetration is still low, that only 8% of seniors believe they need such a device, a helpful persuasion tactic to motivate security dealers and retailers.

From New Report: Future of AI and Older Adults

New report published - Future of AI and Older AdultsFrom the findings: One of the media-fueled risks today with the plethora of AI-related hype is the tendency to find and publicize deficiencies and mistakes, reinforcing the premise that it is too early for benefits across industries like senior living or home care. This cycle was not helped by the behavior of earlier AI technologies like voice assistants. And there are barriers that need to be addressed to realize the full potential, which is not yet fully understood. These include:

The AI opportunity – more and better services

Wondering if there's any news about AI?  Just from yesterday, May 3, 2023 – that list goes on and on.  MIT Technology Review packs all the AI news that’s fit to pack into an up-to-the-minute digest. Stanford provides the State of AI in 14 Charts. The New York Times explains for the uninitiated. So does the Wall Street Journal.  In the world of hype for those who have followed the tech industry, the phrase ‘greatest thing since sliced bread’ comes to mind.  But narrowing the focus on the world of older adults, the possibilities are impressive. Here are four categories of AI for older adults – all discussed in the report, The Future of AI and Older Adults, published the week of May 15:

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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