AI & Elderly Care

Sam Naji, Joseph Tekriti
October 16, 2023
6 minute read
Table of Contents

In the epoch of burgeoning technological advancements, the intersectionality between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and geriatric care has unfurled a tapestry of possibilities intricately woven with the threads of enhanced quality of life, safety, and autonomous living for seniors. The demographic transition towards an ageing population, juxtaposed with a palpable decline in available caregivers, propels the exigency to explore, innovate, and integrate AI-driven solutions into elderly care. This article endeavours to delve into the multifaceted applications of AI, scrutinizing its potential to not only ameliorate the physical well-being of seniors but also to assuage the psychological ramifications concomitant with ageing.

The genesis of this exploration is rooted in a meticulous study conducted by Northwestern Medicine, wherein a staggering 73,000 reviews of smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo, were analyzed to decipher the modus operandi of older adults in leveraging these devices to facilitate ageing in place. The study illuminated five cardinal themes: entertainment, companionship, reminders, support for disabilities, and emergency communication, each of which underscores a unique dimension that intersects with the daily lives of older people. (Using Artificial Intelligence to Support Seniors Aging in Place)

As we navigate the subsequent sections, we shall journey through the labyrinth of AI's applications in elderly care, elucidating the technical, ethical, and practical aspects. From AI-driven motion sensors that meticulously learn and monitor daily activity patterns to intelligent virtual assistants providing companionship and support, the ensuing discourse aims to unravel the myriad ways in which AI can be harnessed to foster a superior ageing-in-place experience for seniors whilst concurrently addressing the challenges and ethical dilemmas that emerge in tandem.

Significant Themes in UtilizingAI for Elderly Care

Navigating through the digital corridors of smart home devices, the study conducted by Northwestern Medicine meticulously analyzed over 73,000 Amazon Echo reviews, unveiling a spectrum of themes that underscore the multifaceted utility of AI in facilitating an enriched ageing experience for seniors. The themes encompass:

  1. Entertainment: Utilizing AI for recreational purposes and as a mnemonic aid for recalling musical melodies.
  2. Companionship: Offering a digital interaction, mitigating the solitude often experienced by caregivers and seniors.
  3. Reminders: A non-judgmental entity, providing repetitive answers without manifesting frustration.
  4. Support for Disabilities: Enabling elderly individuals with functional impairments to execute tasks via voice commands.
  5. Emergency  Communication: Ensuring a safety net by enabling users to initiate communication during emergencies.

These themes not only illuminate the practical applications of AI but also pave the way towards exploring advanced AI technologies to enhance further the efficacy and scope of these applications in elderly care.

AI and Dementia Care: A Beacon of Hope in the Abyss of Forgetfulness

In a poignant narrative shared by Kellye Franklin, whose father, an 81-year-old Air Force veteran, was diagnosed with moderate to severe dementia, the potential of AI in dementia care is vividly illuminated (The Guardian). Incorporating AI-driven motion sensors in their residence in late 2019 has been pivotal in monitoring and learning their daily activity patterns. These sensors, strategically placed at the top of doors and within rooms, serve as vigilant sentinels, alerting Franklin's phone if her father's behaviour deviates from the established norm, ensuring his safety and well-being.

Figure 1: A schematic diagram illustrating the integration and functioning of AI-driven motion sensors in elderly care, particularly for individuals grappling with dementia.


Addressing Challenges in ElderlyCare with AI: A Technological Panacea?

The demographic trajectory towards an ageing population and a palpable scarcity of caregivers necessitate innovative solutions to ensure quality care for seniors. The mathematical simplicity of more older adults and fewer working hands to care for them propels the exploration of AI as a viable solution to bridge this gap. The "third stage of life," which can now span over three decades, demands a social shift towards creating an age-friendly world, enhancing seniors' productivity and quality of life without compromising on the emotional and physical aspects of care (Sensi.AIBlog).

Figure 2: Graphic demonstrating the caregiver support ratio decliningtowards the years. (source: USC Lernard Davis - You Take Care of Your Mom, But Will Take Care ofYou?)

Exploring Various AI Tools inElderly Care: A Tapestry of Technological Ingenuity

The technological zeitgeist of the current era has witnessed the emergence of diverse AI tools, each meticulously crafted to cater to distinct facets of elderly care. Let us delve into a few exemplars that have made notable strides in this domain.

  • Fujitsu: This entity has sculpted a niche in "ageing in place" solutions, amalgamating AI, 5G, and IoT to create a holistic gerontechnology solution that seamlessly integrates healthcare monitoring and remote consultation. The platform delivers audio analysis capabilities to discern the health status of patients but also empowers medical professionals to remotely monitor their elderly patients, thereby mitigating the necessity for in-person clinical visits (Sensi.AI Blog).
  • Amazon  Alexa: Transcending its avatar as a  virtual assistant, Alexa, through the Care Hub, morphs into a solution that enables family members and caregivers to maintain a vigilant eye on the elderly. It provides instant alerts when the senior individual seeks help, ensuring a safety net that facilitates ageing in place with comfort and security.
  • Apple  Watch Fall Detection: This feature, embedded within the Apple Watch, leverages Accelerometer and  Gyroscope sensors, amalgamated with a custom algorithm, to detect hard falls, thereby initiating an emergency alarm and vibrations, ensuring timely assistance when needed
Figure 3: The representation of the technology use of AI on caregiving forseniors.

Ethical and Privacy Aspects inAI for Elderly Care: Navigating the Moral and Ethical Labyrinth

While the technological prowess of AI in elderly care is undeniably commendable, it is imperative to navigate through the ethical and privacy aspects with meticulous scrutiny.
The deployment of AI systems, especially in the intimate domains of home and healthcare, necessitates a thorough examination of ethical considerations, encompassing accuracy, consent, and the overarching quality of life for seniors. The potential benefits, such as safety and reprieve for caregivers, must be judiciously weighed against potential harms and moral dilemmas, ensuring that the deployment of AI does not inadvertently cascade into a surveillance mechanism, thereby infringing upon the privacy and autonomy of the elderly (The Guardian).

Figure 4: A visual depiction of ethical and privacy considerations indeploying AI for elderly care, ensuring a balanced perspective that weighs the benefitsagainst potential pitfalls.


As we traverse through the multifaceted landscape of AI in elderly care, it is evident that the confluence of technology and caregiving has the potential to sculpt a future where the elderly can age with dignity, autonomy, and safety. From providing companionship to ensuring a safety net through emergency communication, AI has demonstrated its potential to enhance the quality of life for the elderly. However, this technological journey must be navigated with a moral compass, ensuring that the deployment of AI is executed with the utmost respect for ethical considerations and privacy, thereby ensuring that the twilight years of life are illuminated with the warmth of care, safeguarded by the vigilance of technology.

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