Dramatic growth in the population of older adults, fueled by the Baby Boom and longer lifespans, is intensifying the focus on the quality of our later years.
The older adult market represents an enormous and often underappreciated business opportunity. The longevity economy—the sum of economic activity driven by the needs of Americans who are 50 and over—is $7.6 trillion annually.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions are likely to make up a growing share of the longevity economy. It is important to understand not only the health and lifestyle benefits of AI but its limits and potential drawbacks as well, such as effects on employment and privacy. AI offers us a tremendous opportunity to improve our lives, but we need to learn how to properly manage it and harness its benefits.
While advances in AI will have a profound effect across the lifespan, many applications will be especially helpful in enabling older adults to live more fulfilling lives.
Here are six areas in which AI can help improve our lives as we age:
1.Healthcare – On the healthcare front, telehealth has many benefits for people of all ages, including the opportunity to access care without having to travel to a health care facility and the ability to better monitor chronic conditions. Companies like AiCure and Sensely are providing AI-based telehealth solutions, with AiCure offering app-based verification of adherence to prescriptions and Sensely delivering a virtual nurse for vital sign monitoring.
2. Caregiving –AI can help close the alarming gap between the number of people needing care and the family and paid caregivers who will be available to care for them. Care Angel is an AI-driven caregiving assistant that can call an older adult every day and inquire about the person’s health and medication adherence. Touchkin’s AI platform enables seniors and their caregivers to receive proactive, personalized health support via its StayClose app.
3. Social Isolation – Social isolation is an issue for many seniors and can have a very harmful impact on health, often leading to loneliness and depression. Yumii and Jibo are two examples of AI robots helping people combat isolation with their interactive capabilities. Yumii is a companion robot that offers a variety of activities and services via an interactive screen. Jibo is a companion robot that can snap a photo or send a message with the aim of getting to know you and your social network, in order to deliver personalized information and interaction.
4. Livable Communities – A livable community is one that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and offers supportive community features and services. Those resources enhance personal independence; allow residents to age in place; and foster residents’ engagement in the community’s civic, economic, and social life. AI can help us create livable communities by building safer roads and crosswalks, autonomous vehicles and other technological improvements to facilitate greater mobility in our communities. For example Denver is developing and deploying technology, using video and lasers, to control the length of time lights flash at crosswalks based on the pace that the pedestrian moves.
5. Independent Living – The overwhelming majority of adults want to remain in their homes as they age, by using products, services and conveniences that accommodate changing life circumstances. Smart Homes are helping make this easier. At the recent CES in Las Vegas, we saw many smart home applications that will benefit people of all ages. For entertainment and smart home options, two of the many current offerings are: SevenHugs’ Smart Remote, which allows you to control everything in your home with a single, adaptive remote, and SmartBeings’ WooHoo, an AI-based interactive smart home hub with a live video assistant and the ability to control lights, temperature, electronics, and more.
6. Wealth Management – As life expectancy grows, people grapple with how to manage their money for this longer lifespan. Wealth management has been made easier and more affordable with the help of robo-advisors, automating asset allocation of investments via a computer algorithm. Betterment and Wealthfront are two robo advisors that offer online, automated portfolio management services.
As AI shapes the future in ways we can’t fully predict, we can be sure of one thing: It will be a major force in our lives. Thankfully, there is still an indispensable role for humans: We can’t just leave it to the machines to determine where AI will take us.