AI Chatbox Could Help Relieve Social Isolation

With a growing proportion of the population reaching retirement age, many of them living alone, social isolation and loneliness have become what experts call an epidemic.  And loneliness can not only lead to depression, but it may also cause physical well-being to deteriorate.  Companionship helps seniors stay active and engaged but not all older adults are able to care for a pet or have access to transportation; that’s where a digital Siri-like chatbox may be able to help. 

According to a recent report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, researchers at Canada’s Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute are working on an artificial intelligence device that would be able to engage seniors in conversations that help prevent depression.  Using emotionally intelligent AI, the technology would be able to respond in a way that keeps older adults talking and sharing their feelings.  This information would also help caregivers to get a sense of the emotional state of an elderly loved one. 

Statistics Canada reports that as many as 1.4 million older adults say they are lonely and in the United States, a recent AARP survey suggests that more than a third of seniors report they are lonely.   Isolation and loneliness have been linked with an increased risk for hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and early death. 

Learn more about how AI may help seniors living in isolation by following this link to the University of Alberta’s online magazine Folio