The University of California San Diego has teamed with IBM on a multi-year program to enhance quality of life for senior citizens, supported with artificial intelligence. The program includes a study of the health implications of the human microbiome, which are microoganisms in the body to protect against germs and break down food more easily, among other benefits, as well as microoganisms that can be injurious to human health.

The five-year project will, for the first time, study the impact that a combination of daily habits, the environment, genetics and the microbiome have on the health and cognition of older adults. Subtle changes of aging will be modeled and the initiative includes deployment of personalized interventions via robots that help support wellness. The goal is to help senior citizens live independently longer and with a higher quality of life.

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Researchers will use artificial intelligence to comb through massive amounts of data to enable healthier living. They also will develop a type of robot that can be placed in the home and perform assistive services says Tajana Rosing, a professor at the university and co-director of the Artificial Intelligence for Healthy Living Center.

For now, the concept of the robot isn’t clear but the hope it can programmed to aid a senior citizen with reminders that she was going to go shopping and what she was going to buy, or a reminder to turn off the stove, and even be able to notice changes in blood pressure via a sensor. Other sensors in the home could generate data and pull out relevant information about home conditions such as temperature and low humidity.

Eating habits also will play a role in the effort to help elderly persons stay healthier and more cognitively aware for a longer period of time. People who eat a wide range of foods, for example, ingest better microbiomes, which can improve cognition.

Project leaders now are collaborating with Internet of Things vendors to assess IOT technologies that could be adopted and placed in patient homes, Rosing says. Efforts also are being made to collaborate with provider organizations for help in studying the impact of supporting beneficial daily home habits, genetics, use of microbiomes and development of technology.

“Providers can make a very big difference by contributing their insights how they can help and what they need,” she adds. “We want seniors to remain independent and enjoy life and this project will in fact change their lives.”

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