5 Ways that Artificial Intelligence Will Impact the Senior Living Industry
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 fort he 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. AI has the potential to revolutionize the senior living industry, and in doing so help manage the upcoming demand that it 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 will have the potential to provide benefits to all parties involved in the industry, from staff and health workers to residents and family members.
New monitoring technology will allow staff to collect data on residents more easily, and smart software with voice recognition will allow them to become more efficient 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 give them the ability to make more accurate diagnoses.
Robots, chatbots, and other software systems will be able to improve the quality of life of the residents by interacting with them as well as facilitating better community integration. Additionally, AI-powered software will be able to provide family members of residents with better visibility into their care with updates and insights.
2. 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 will be able to 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 the sharing of information facilitated by 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 is staying healthy.
Additionally, since AI will improve efficiencies for staff, they will have more time to send messages and provide personalized updates to family members. This more 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 using a messaging platform.
3. AI will keep residents socially engaged
AI can be used to help residents become more socially engaged, which may help 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 an addition to regular social interaction rather than a replacement. AI-powered software can also be used to allow residents to more easily interact with others.
4. 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 are already using AI and predictive analytics to attract and retain staff.
Scheduling monthly calendars and 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.
By saving time in these areas, this will provide staff with 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, this will in turn improve staff job satisfaction and reduce turnover. Furthermore, in addition to senior care staff, healthcare professionals will also benefit from the process improvements provided by AI.
5. AI will promote better healthcare
Healthcare is an area where artificial intelligence will have one of the largest impacts. Using sensors and monitoring devices, AI is able to perform more accurate detection and prevention of potential risks to physical, mental and cognitive health. One example of a practical application of this technology is a new FDA-approved tool that can detect wrist fractures. The ability of AI to perform real-time monitoring, detection, and analysis allows for 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.
It 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 potential applications of 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, occupancy, and 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. With reduced staff turnover and healthier residents, this can result in significant cost savings.
These benefits that AI can provide are significant, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. As research and development into AI continues, the technologies and the benefits that they provide will only continue to improve.
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