Artificial intelligence helps the aged live dignified lives
The aging of the population has led researchers and people in China's elderly care sector to find innovative uses for the latest in smart technology.
There are now 250 million people over 60 years of age living in China. They account for nearly 18 percent of the population.
94-year-old Zhang Dexuan has been living at a nursing home for five years. [Photo: China Plus]
These figures were released by Premier Li Keqiang when he delivered the government work report during the National People's Congress in Beijing.
Li Hongbing is the deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau. He says that the aging population poses both challenges and opportunities.
"Science and technology can help elderly people to regain abilities they have lost, engage better with life, and find hope and rebuild their confidence."
New technology, especially artificial intelligence, can increasingly be found in nursing homes and as part of home-based care for the elderly.
A nursing house in Beijing's Fangshan District is one place where cutting-edge tech has been put to use.
"TmallGenie, turn on the light in the living room."
"I'm turning on the light in the living room."
Yan Shuai, the director of the Puleyuan Nursing Home, says he introduced new smart devices into the home in an effort to meet the government's call for better nursing care.
"Advanced technology can help to fill the gap caused by the lack of nursing staff. Through the camera and an APP on a smart phone, we know who's entered a person's room and how the staff is taking care of them. It's risky for seniors to get up to turn on the lights, as their blood pressure and heartbeat isn't stable when they wake up in the early morning. Turning the lights on and off using a simple voice instruction can effectively avoid accidents."
Companion robots, intelligent mattresses, and toilets that can wash and dry the person using them, along with smart rehabilitation training equipment, is increasingly being used in nursing homes across the country.
Yao Dezhong, a deputy to the National People’s Congress and a professor at University of Electronic Science and Technology. [Photo: China Plus]
Yao Dezhong, who is a legislator in the National People's Congress and a professor at University of Electronic Science and Technology, has suggested that smart wearables, like smart watches and fitness trackers, also have a role to play in elderly care.
"Smart wearables can detect a problem with an elderly person's physical and psychological condition so that their family and doctors can quickly respond. This can reduce medical expenses and improve an elderly person's life."
Of course, technology isn't just being put towards managing the health conditions that seniors already have. Researchers are working on finding treatments and cures for some of the most common diseases afflicting senior citizens.
Wang Qin, a legislator in the National People's Congress and director of the Jiangsu Provincial Bureau of Science and Technology. [Photo: China Plus]
Wang Qin is a legislator in the National People's Congress. He also works with the Jiangsu Provincial Bureau of Science and Technology.
"We have been developing artificial neurons and hippocampus that can help seniors with Alzheimer's disease. And brain and computer interaction technology will give paralyzed patients the ability to drive a wheelchair."
As new advanced technologies are developed, they can sometimes seem divorced from our day-to-day lives. But as these examples have shown, these advances can make a big difference to the quality of life of people in their golden years.