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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Orlov

The Future of AI & Chatbots in the Care of Older Adults

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Age-tech guru Laurie Orlov of Aging and Health Technology Watch shares AI companies making a difference in senior living and aging services, and whether chatbots will add value to older adults and families.


AI use in care delivery and marketing is not new - it just seems that way. Most would agree: AI is the hottest segment in the technology market today. It is beginning to emerge even in market segments that may have been slow to see (or seize) the opportunity. In healthcare, there are research reports and predictions, though adoption has been slow. AI is more established in marketing, even in senior-related businesses. More systems will emerge that learn data patterns and algorithms to construct an interaction or respond appropriately. And during the summer, stay tuned for the new report "The Future of AI and Older Adults."


Here are five current examples, all information was drawn directly from the vendor websites:


Botco Chatbot. "An example of AI-based marketing, Botco’s Instachat Builder enables fast deployment by automatically producing questions and answers from reams of data ingested as text or PDF. The platform allows businesses to create and launch a smart chatbot that can answer hundreds of potential questions in a fraction of the time compared to what was previously possible. Questions can be edited for streamlining and they are seamlessly integrated into a conversation flow resulting in an intelligent chatbot. Botco’s chatbot technology has been deployed at Carlton Senior Living." Learn more at Botco.


Caspar.ai integrates ChatGPT into its care app. "As integrated, ChatGPT, an AI-powered conversational platform, is used to enhance the caregiving experience for nurses and residents. Caspar's generative AI has access to 24/7 in-home data with which it builds a model for minute-by-minute behavioral predictions about residents, summarized in the form of alerts and observations for nurses and caregivers." When linked with ChatGPT's input layer, pertinent context is provided, enabling faster and more accurate issue identification." Learn more at Caspar.ai.


Cordio Medical HearO. "The HearO™ uses the patient’s speech to create a patient-specific and adaptive model, detecting differences which are characteristic of the target disorder and can lead to hospitalization/ deterioration. Ultimately, the HearO™ can significantly reduce the need for additional hospitalization due to complications of CHF that can be remedied if addressed in a timely manner." Learn more at Cordio.


Essence SmartCall Service for virtual call follow-up. "Essence SmartCare, a leader in IoT-based remote care solutions, today announced the launch of its latest SmartCall service offering, an automatic, intuitive virtual call system to optimize follow-up care for seniors receiving home-based care. Leveraging voice recognition and AI-based technology, the SmartCall virtual assistant proactively calls users, asking a variety of key wellbeing questions to detect situations requiring attention. Data is collected by the system, analyzed and managed by a dedicated portal. This structured data facilitates more effective remote care and easier follow-ups, enabling care teams to improve delivery of quality care while optimizing their workloads." Learn more at Essence Smart Care.


Inspiren Augi. "The platform consists of a sleek wall-mounted automated sensor system that uses computer vision, artificial intelligence, and advanced room environmental sensors to passively and continually observe resident and staff behavior, while maintaining privacy. It can uncover sleep patterns, resident mobility issues, and general room activity through computer vision technology which gives the care team unprecedented privacy protected, HIPAA-compliant, real-time visibility into the place where at-risk residents are most vulnerable – their apartments. The system proactively notifies staff when a fall may be imminent, such as when an at-risk resident is getting up out of bed or out of their chair. Smart, contextual notifications provide staff with insight into what is taking place with the resident in their apartment in real-time, which gives staff the ability to prioritize responses." Learn more at Inspiren.


Will Chatbots Be helpful to older adults and families?


As part of research on the Future of AI and Older Adults, interviewees are talking about the potential role of chatbots – and why they should matter. Not surprisingly, a search for ‘chatbots and older adults’ reveals research studies targeting those aged 60+, startup investment, for example, Lena, which evolved into Lena Health for scheduling appointments, and a small study about what makes a compelling chatbot. But for older adults or families who hesitant about searching for information or frustrated with online sites or call trees, chatbots can be the ideal solution. They can also boost tech confidence and user self-sufficiency. Although the real purpose of chatbots is to save response center labor and boost efficiency – they should help the user get what they need. Consider that:

  • They should be relevant to the task underway. For example, they can offer a step-by-step guide AND save staff labor. Sunrise Senior Livings chatbot offers a list of choices -- ‘find care for myself’ or ‘browsing options for senior living’ -- all of which could lead to an answer that does not require a phone call or further searching. Carlton Senior Livings chatbot named Ana offers a similar list of search options, including scheduling a visit. Brennity Senior Living, where a close relative once lived, is terse. The chatbot isn’t labeled as such, but clicking on it gives you the choice of calling, scheduling a tour, or emailing.

  • They should not mislead you into thinking that ‘chat live now’ means it. After entering the first screening question on one national home health site, one would think that would get to ‘chat live’ but there were more screening questions. And neither Home Instead nor Right at Home offer a chatbot. In fact, Right at Home’s site has only two tabs – and they get right to the point – Find Care or Find Jobs.

  • They should answer the question. Human Good jumps right into live chat about finding a community. But then it baffles, since its home page also offers a ‘Find a community’ option, and the screening questions (‘what state, what is most important’) were timewasters when the question asked of the chat operator was about availability in a specific location. On the other hand, GetSetUp responded to the chat request ‘training about smartphones’ with the quick ‘iPhone or Android’ and then after a few seconds suggested ‘iPhone Tips and Tricks.’

But will chatbots be yesterday’s news? Finally, these chatbots may find themselves obsoleted by conversational AI tools like BingChat’s “Ask me Anything” responding to a question about the senior living locations in a specific town after which it suggests asking multiple follow-up questions, including cost and services offered, like memory care,and then answers with references sourced. No contact info, though, so at some point the user is sent off to the source websites. But for those who are unsure even of the question, the responses are very, uh, chatty.

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