(AI)ding the Elderly with AI
January 24, 2024
Forget the golden age, artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing a new silver lining in healthcare. It is revolutionizing health services across the nation and improving patient care, specifically for the elderly population. According to the World Health Organization, AI technology is improving the fields of medicine and public health for older individuals by anticipating potential health risks, fueling drug development, and supporting the personalization of healthcare management.
“Though adoption of AI has been delayed in mental health research and clinical care relative to other fields, it could potentially enhance diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment approaches for the growing aging population,” said Dr. Helmet Karim, assistant professor of psychiatry and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. “With ubiquitous usage of wearable sensors, advancements in explainable AI, and growing acceptance of AI in medicine, these approaches could support increasing clinical demands.”
Here are a few ways AI is helping seniors enter the digital age.
Daily Care & Wellness Monitoring
Scientifically validated AI in-home care solutions like People Power Family are revolutionizing home care, nursing facilities, and assisted living centers by helping older adults in their everyday tasks. This technology can track and collect the health data of individuals to ensure their well-being by detecting falls and changes in behavior that may indicate that an individual has a specific health condition.
AI devices are also being used to monitor patient health from cameras to motion sensors to wearables. Organizations such as SafelyYou are utilizing AI-based fall detection technology to continuously track patient movements and alert staff, effectively decreasing ER visits. On the other hand, CarePredict designs wearable wrist devices that can track an elderly patient’s daily activities including walking, bathing, eating, visits to the bathroom, and periods of sleep.
Managing Medication Schedules
Many elderly individuals face difficulties when it comes to adhering to their medication schedules. AI-powered medical reminder apps such as mPulse Mobile are game changers in that area. They ensure that elderly patients follow their medication regimen, which decreases the likelihood of potential hospital admissions and helps improve patient health outcomes.
Such technologies not only help patients in the short-term, but they also foster the creation of long-term health plans. AI utilizes patient data to predict an individual’s overall response to different forms of treatment and creates a beneficial medication schedule. This method helps increase patient-centered care within the medical field, establishing the welfare of patients.
Guidance During Medical Challenges
AI technologies can help empower patients by providing them with information, support, and guidance for managing specific health conditions. For example, a chatbot called “Vik” was created to help breast cancer patients navigate their diagnosis. This device provides patients with a variety of information through personalized text messages, ranging from comprehensive medical statistics and treatments regarding breast cancer to lifestyle and diet to patients’ rights.
Additionally, AI-powered systems can also detect conditions that go untreated like dementia and late-life depression. Such systems can potentially identify patients with symptoms of certain mental health conditions and provide them with timely information on treatment plans as well as tips on managing their health.
Companionship and Personal Interaction
According to the PEW Research Center, 27% of adults ages 60 and older live alone in the U.S., which indicates that many elderly individuals are in need of social interaction or companionship. AI technologies like ChatGPT can actually be trained to provide emotional and social support to the aging population. For instance, loved ones can set up and customize ChatGPT, ensuring that conversations are targeted to a person’s needs such as news updates, story sharing, light-hearted banter, and more.
But that is not all. Researchers have bigger plans for AI when it comes to the seniors. Dr. Lillian Hung, a researcher at The University of British Columbia and founder of IDEA lab (Innovation in Dementia & Aging) recently introduced AI-powered social robots to West Vancouver’s Amica senior living facility as part of her study. She found that AI-powered social robots have the potential to engage with elderly patients, mitigating their feelings of social isolation and loneliness. This daily interaction can alleviate psychological distress, decrease feelings of anxiety and depression, lower agitation, promote positive facial expressions, and enhance an individual’s overall mood on an everyday basis.
“It [AI robot] sings with you, plays with you, dances with you, follows you – just makes sure you feel that you’re loved,” said Dr. Hung about the adorable robots that have helped some shy residents come out of their rooms. There have been talks of making such robots permanent residents of the facility.
As more seniors age in place, smart home devices enhanced with AI-powered features are revolutionizing households into spaces that address the needs of every resident. These devices offer support in various ways, including turning lights on and off, adjusting temperature, detecting smoke, monitoring behavior and health, reminding about medications, detecting falls, and even initiating emergency calls.
“AI and sensor data can derive patterns and alerts that inform care, for example, combining sensors with data about individuals that have a history of falls, AI tools can detect bed, chair, and room exits which require immediate response,” said Laurie M. Orlov, principal analyst, Aging and Health Technology Watch.
A few other AI apps listed below can also help seniors live healthier, safer lives:
- Caspar.ai: identifies 10+ health conditions even before symptoms are noticed
- CareDaily.ai: is a fully integrated home health
- CareSmartz360: helps seniors with activities of daily living and communication
- Inspiren: is a healthcare technology company specializing in AI-powered solutions to improve outcomes
- VirtuSense.ai: is a proactive AI that makes healthcare simple, affordable, and accessible
- KamiCare: is an easy-to-install fall management solution
- Sagely: assists with engagement programs in senior living communities
Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role in the healthcare industry by giving older individuals the chance at a new life. This revolutionary technology helps monitor health, creates efficient medication schedules, bolsters social interaction and personal care, and allows elderly patients to be more independent. With insureyouknow.org, you can keep track of the data AI helps collect to improve your health outcomes. With the assistance of AI, seniors are experiencing a digital revival and upgrading to a new level of well-being.
Dealing with Mental Stress During the Holidays
November 22, 2023
For most people, the best parts of the holidays, extravagant decor, rich foods, gift-giving, and additional time with friends and family, can also be the most stress inducing. While the holidays are thought of as the most wonderful time of the year, it is in fact viewed by many as the most stressful time of the year.
Neverending to-do lists, added expenses, and the desire to achieve a perfect holiday are just a few of the ways that the season brings on an overwhelming amount of stress. Plus, if you have an existing mental health condition, the holidays may accentuate it. “There are a lot of stressors in life without the holiday season,” says event planner Courtney Lutkus. “The holidays can be triggering and make it worse.”
In order to have a more relaxing holiday season, it’s important to choose some strategies ahead of time that will help you combat seasonal stress.
Exercise is Often the Best Medicine
During the holidays, prioritizing regular exercise can mitigate stress before it happens. Whichever exercise you choose, taking the time to move your body will guarantee a healthy dose of holiday cheer.
If you tend to feel restricted during the holidays from being spread too thin both physically and mentally, dance therapist Erica Hornthal recommends what she calls joy workouts. Take a break from the festivities, find an open space, and spend eight minutes moving through six expanding moves, including reaching, swaying, and jumping, that are designed to boost happiness. “Shake your hands, shake your head — kind of like an animal after it gets wet,” she says. “You can make a game out of it if you have kids.”
Alternatively, if you feel the need to slow things down, then yoga might work best for you. Even a fifteen minute session can lower levels of stress and anxiety. With a focus on breathwork and mindfulness, yoga can be especially effective for alleviating the feelings of nonstop commotion that often come with the holidays.
If you find yourself wanting to get away, a walk or run around the neighborhood may be just what you need to reset. You could even plan a “microadventure,” which could be as simple as a bike ride in the dark or a daytime hike at a nearby nature reserve. Viewing things in a new light and admiring your surroundings can create a sense of awe, which has been proven to lower stress levels. Plus, spending time outside, even if it’s just a walk around the block, can lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
If you’re having difficulty finding time for yourself during busy days, then reclaiming your mornings might be the best way to fit in a break. “I encourage everyone to develop a daily habit of starting their day with their own voice as the primary driver for how they want to engage the day,” says therapist Chanel Dokun. “This is an easy way to pre-schedule ‘me-time’ amid a busy holiday season where you can check in with your own needs, set your own priorities, and move into your day feeling centered and in control.” Plus, research shows that waking up just one hour earlier lowers an individual’s risk for depression by 23 percent.
In addition to making time for yourself in the mornings, simply saying no to yet another social obligation could help you avoid the burnout that comes from overdoing it. The sheer volume of things to do during the holidays can make it difficult to prioritize what’s most important. Sometimes, taking care of your mental health can be more important than attending yet another event, so give yourself permission to choose your festivities wisely. Not only will saying no to some things ease your stress, but it can also reinforce healthy relationship boundaries, which will leave you feeling empowered rather than burnt out.
Honor Your Routine
With all of the added hustle and bustle, it will be easy to fall out of your usual routine, but sticking to your routine might be the simplest solution to seasonal stress. Dr. David Spiegel, director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford University, says that our stress responses are far more flexible when we are resting and nourishing our bodies. “Mitigate stress by taking care of your body first,” says Spiegel. Give your body something to depend on during the holiday rush by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly.
It would be impossible for every part of the holiday to be perfect, so why place that standard upon yourself? Think about what traditions matter most to you, such as cooking a specific meal for your children or visiting family. When you take the time to think about what matters most, you can either ditch the items that fall down on your to-do list, or you can ask other family members to take some tasks off of your plate.
“You have a lot going on,” reminds psychologist David Rakofsky. “You can’t possibly do it all. Instead of lamenting your ‘losses,’ congratulate yourself on the everyday victories, like leaving the bed, smiling, and putting on pants.”
Whether you’re counting on your travels to go just as planned, finding the perfect gifts, or hosting the event of the season, having an idealized approach can set you up for disappointment. When you let go of your vision for the perfect holiday, you may find that you have far more joy this season, as well as far less stress.
Stick to a Holiday Budget
The best way to manage financial stress is to set a realistic budget. Since nearly 1 in 4 people feel financially burdened by the holidays, there may be no better time to employ a budget than this time of year. “Be realistic when creating a budget by using real prices, not ballpark figures,” says Family and Community Health specialist Joyce Cavanagh. “Don’t forget to include travel, food and entertaining costs in your holiday budget. And remember to jot down what you’ve bought so you don’t lose track of how much you’ve spent.”
Due to inflation, lower-income households may experience more financial stress this year. 29 percent of consumers say they’re stressed about the cost of holiday shopping, and 14 percent feel pressured to spend more than they’re comfortable with. Talking with your loved ones about minimizing holiday spending and gift-giving could take the pressure off of everyone and put the focus back on celebrating with loved ones. “Try managing your anxiety through transparency and planning,” says psychiatrist Dr. Georgia Gaveras. “You may end up being a hero this holiday season if you propose limiting the number of gifts everyone buys.”
While you concentrate on the most wonderful time of the year, Insureyouknow.org can help you keep track of everything from financial records to travel itineraries and schedules. This season, stay organized when things get chaotic, and give yourself space to be present for all of what the holidays offer.