Caring Machines: AI in Eldercare: Papers from the AAAI Fall Symposium
Timothy Bickmore, Chair
Much has been published on the looming demographic crisis in the U.S., with the number of older adults skyrocketing while the number of human caretakers dwindle. Combined with a strong desire by aging individuals to remain independent in their homes as long as possible, these conditions motivate technological solutions to human care-giving.
While this situation has inspired many research projects in AI, HCI and robotics over the last decade, most of these solutions have addressed only very narrow aspects of the total care-giving needs of older individuals. Social psychologists have identified a number of types of social support that people provide for each other, and this taxonomy may be useful in grasping the entire range of needs that an individual may have. Instrumental support provides material aid for individuals, such as help with shopping or household chores, and may require robotic assistance to effect. Informational and cognitive support provides advice, suggestions, and information that a person can use to address problems, and may require proactive reminding and intervention for individuals with cognitive impairments. Emotional and appraisal support involves the provision of empathy to help individuals manage their adverse emotional states and provide feedback that is useful for self-evaluation, and may help address loneliness and depression. Social network support helps an individual maintain an active social network, and can be provided by systems that introduce elders to others with similar interests or proactively take steps to maintain existing friendships.