At present, the term “aging society” is often heard in the news. It means that the society will have a higher proportion of the aging group. The National Statistical Office (NSO) forecasts that Thailand will fully enter the aging society by 2021. The issue that follows is how to foster the well-being of their physical and mental health wherein related parties are constantly seeking more efficient methods. An element that may help this issue is medical innovation from Deep Technology. Today, Digital Ventures interviews AIM Global Innovation, robotics Deep Tech developers regarding healthcare. They will share how Deep Tech will uplift the elders’ quality of life.
An overview of today’s aging society.
The United Nations defines the “aging generation” as men or women who are above 60 years old. The AIM Global Innovation team mentions that the world today is mindful about the elderly group. At present, there is around 962 million elderly in the world or 1 in 7 of the world population. In Thailand, there are around 10 million people in this group and has an increasing trend. The United Nations estimates that the 21st century (2001-2100) will be the century that mankind enter the aging society which will bring about various effects concerning the economy, society, and health innovations in each country.
The indicator of a social problem is the dependency ratio of the labor force and the elderly. At present, the world ratio is 13 elders to 100 labor force. In the future, there is a trend that this ratio will become 1 to 1. This will surely affect the quality of life of the elderly. That is because once the ratio of the elderly and labor force move closer, it means that elderly care may not be extensive.
As they age, the elderlies are faced with deteriorating physical health which can affect the mental health. Elders may tend to lack social interaction and may be unable to continue their usual routines which can lead to depression. As a result, this will also affect their physical health, thus, making their final years not as satisfying.
Deep Technology that enhances the elder’s quality of life.
As the older generation increases, innovation development is needed to support them. An example is an innovation from AIM Global Innovation who are studying solutions for the elders. They shared about how Deep Tech can be applied as follow:
- Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence in motion detection technology. Machine learning can learn human movements to analyze human behavior. This can be used for the elders to encourage them to carry out their routines properly such as to recheck if they are exercising, taking their medication, or eating their meals. Also, the objective is to prevent repeatedly taking the medication for dementia patients.
- Additionally, robots are built for entertainment and alleviate loneliness such as play songs or play games. An AI can learn to adjust the difficulty of the game to fit the objective to help prevent mental deterioration.
- Robotics – Various technologies are installed in the elder-friendly robot. The advantage of robots is that they can be mass-produced to the amount that is sufficient to serve the growing number of elders. Also, they don’t have feelings, thus, they can bare certain groups of elders who may have mood swings that can be a challenge for human caretakers.
The roles of robots and technology for elderly care.
Many views that robots who become elder caretakers may deteriorate family relationships. However, AIM Global Innovation shares that those who wish to use robots need to define what they need the robot and technology to do. AIM Global Innovation aims for their robots to “support” elderly care so that elders are healthier and can happily live in the society. They will not replace anyone, they will help make the caretaking process more efficient.
The role of robots in promoting good health extends to caring for the brain. Today, certain software is used to exercise the brain to prevent dementia. AIM Global Innovation points out that their robot and brain-exercise software targets users of 60 years old and above. Activities to prevent dementia is, in fact, easier and more sustainable than treating the symptoms once elders have already become ill. Moreover, robots are suitable for repeating routines without showing any mood or becoming tired. As a result, tracking the behavior of the elders becomes more efficient.
The team emphasizes that the robot can’t fully replace the role of human caretakers. This is because robots can never replace the human relationship. The role of robots and technology is solely the “helper” of personals, experts, and family members.
Another advantage is the economic aspect which is the cost. Robots cost less and are more efficient when compared to hiring professionals to accompany the elders. Professionals risk having human errors when robots will not have such problems as they can repeat routines without feeling weary. AIM Global Innovation’s plan is to make their robots for rent. Therefore, the cost will be even lower, and the team can provide maintenance throughout the usage.
Supporting factors for technology to “help” with elderly care.
Surely, for innovation development to be commercialized, dedicated support is a requirement. AIM Global Innovation shares that financial support for R&D is highly necessary, especially in the Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligent Technology for elderly care. This medical research requires precise information. In order to acquire an efficient and highly precise system, good quality data is needed to teach the system.
Another essential support is the proof of concept. This requires the collaboration of hospitals and elderly care centers. The proof of concept is a significant process that can help develop products to better serve elderly care.
The concept of applying Deep Tech in elderly care not only lessen the workload of human caretakers but also help to promote the well-being of elders. AIM Global Innovation is part of the innovation developer team in the U.REKA project. U.REKA aims to support Deep Tech innovation by Thai developers that can solve the country’s problems while also increasing Thailand’s competitiveness in the knowledge-based economy. Follow Digital Ventures for more updates on solving problems with Deep Tech.