Operations Best Practices

5 Ways that Artificial Intelligence Will Impact the Senior Living Industry

June 6, 2018

The number of older adults is growing rapidly. By 2036, adults 65 and older could represent between 23% and 25% of Canada’s total population - but this isn’t just a Canadian issue. The number of older adults worldwide is increasing faster than any other age group. This demographic is expanding, and the senior living industry will soon experience a spike in demand as a result.

It will be a challenge for the industry to deal with this growing demand, and this is where artificial intelligence comes in. Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to machines and computers that are programmed to simulate the way that humans think, learn, and work. Systems powered by AI “learn” by collecting data over time and use this knowledge to perform tasks that are normally performed by humans. Here are 5 potential ways that AI will revolutionize the senior living industry and help manage the upcoming demand the industry will face.

  1. AI will facilitate the adoption of new technologies

With the growth of AI, new technologies will emerge that will have applications in the senior living industry. Care homes in countries like Japan are already using a variety of AI-powered tools including robots, sensors, and software to make up for a shortage of skilled care workers. These technologies could benefit all parties involved in the industry, from staff and health workers to residents and family members.

New monitoring technology will let staff collect data on residents easily, and smart software with voice recognition will increase their efficiency at day-to-day tasks. Sensors and other health devices that use AI will provide healthcare professionals with better visibility into residents’ health, and the increased collection of data will help them make more accurate diagnoses.

Robots, chatbots, and other software systems will improve the quality of life of the residents by interacting with them as well as facilitating better community integration.

  1. AI will keep family members informed and updated

Using mobile applications or web-based platforms, family members of residents will be able to get easy access to information regarding their loved ones’ care. AI-powered systems can provide them with relevant updates and even answer questions. These systems will be especially valuable for family members who don’t live close to the care facility or are unable to visit frequently. 

A Stanford study found that sharing of information through AI in the elder care domain “will help families remain engaged with one another at a distance.” This can significantly increase family members’ peace of mind, as they can be assured that their loved one is receiving proper care and staying healthy. 

Additionally, since AI will improve efficiency, staff will have more time to send messages and provide personalized updates to family members. This personal touch will allow family members to feel more engaged with their loved ones’ care even when they can’t physically be with them. There is also potential for AI systems to allow residents to communicate directly with family members through messaging platforms.

  1. AI will keep residents socially engaged 

AI can help residents become more socially engaged, which may reduce the risk of cognitive decline or dementia. Researchers at IBM and the University of California have committed $16 million to a 5-year study that will test how AI can be used to detect mild cognitive impairment earlier. Additionally, chatbots and companion robots powered by AI will be able to interact with residents to simulate social engagement. However, these simulated companions should be seen as a supplement to regular social interaction rather than a replacement. AI-powered software can also help residents easily interact with others. 

  1. AI will increase staff efficiency and improve retention

There will soon be a wide array of AI-powered tools that will help staff become more efficient while also reducing turnover. Some senior living organizations such as Benchmark in Massachusetts already use AI and predictive analytics to attract and retain staff. 

Scheduling monthly calendars and notifying residents about upcoming events, meals, and appointments will be much easier using a system that includes AI. Another improvement will come in the form of automatic data collection and analysis by sensors, which will eliminate a significant amount of paperwork. AI will also provide staff with other intuitive ways of collecting data. Digital assistants with voice recognition capabilities will allow staff to dictate notes, send messages to family members or healthcare professionals, and more. 

Saving time in these areas will give staff the opportunity to spend more time providing personalized care to residents and personalized updates to their family members. With AI making their jobs easier and eliminating a large amount of paperwork, staff will have improved job satisfaction and reduced turnover.

  1. AI will promote better healthcare

The improvements provided by AI benefit not only senior care staff, but health care professionals as well. Healthcare is an area where artificial intelligence will have one of the largest impacts. AI can perform more accurate detection and prevention of potential risks to physical, mental and cognitive health by using sensors and monitoring devices. One example of this technology is a new FDA-approved tool that can detect wrist fractures. AI’s ability to perform real-time monitoring, detection, and analysis allows immediate updates to be sent to staff and family if changes or risks are detected. This proactive approach to healthcare will allow residents to get help before risks develop into serious issues.

AI will also allow for better collaboration between the senior living industry and the healthcare industry. A pilot project done by an independent living facility in Missouri found that the average length of stay was 1.72 years longer for seniors living with an AI health monitoring platform. Platforms like these help keep residents healthy and out of hospitals, which extends the length of their stay, increases occupancy rates, and keeps their family members happy.

AI will only get better, and it’s here to stay

The number of applications for artificial intelligence is growing on a near-constant basis.There is no doubt that it is only a matter of time before the senior living industry undergoes massive changes spurred by AI-powered technologies. While these changes may take some getting used to, the benefits that they will bring will be significant. AI will help keep residents social and healthy and will keep family members up-to-date and informed on the care that they are receiving. This can lead to increases in family satisfaction, positive word of mouth, higher occupancy, and increased revenue for senior care facilities. Furthermore, staff members will become more efficient and satisfied, and healthcare professionals will gain better insight into the health of residents. Reduced staff turnover and healthier residents will then lead to significant cost savings.

The benefits that AI can provide are significant, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. As research and development into AI continue, more applications for the technology within the industry will be discovered. 

At Welbi, we understand the vital role tech plays in transforming the industry. That’s why we created our state-of-the-art recreational platform to help senior living communities deliver exceptional life experiences to their residents. To learn more about how our software can improve resident satisfaction and your business’ bottom line, download our free eBook The Business of Wellness for Senior Communities. To stay up to date on how we’re revolutionizing senior living, sign up for our newsletter

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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