Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to creating computer systems that can perform activities that typically require human intellect, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and language translation. The objective of AI research is to develop robots that can think and learn like humans and use technology to enhance human skills.

AI is becoming more prevalent in everyday life, from the creation of self-driving cars to the spread of intelligent assistants such as Siri and Alexa. As a result, numerous technology businesses and academic researchers are investing in artificially intelligent technologies to improve the quality of life, including people with dementia.

Benefits of AI in dementia care

There are many benefits of using AI to support and transform care for people with dementia. AI can assist in identifying and diagnosing dementia, which is critical since early detection improves prognosis and allows individuals to plan their care and finances accordingly.

This technology can also help monitor and track the disease’s symptoms and progression. This can improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers by reducing stress and anxiety and improving their social connection and the quality of care they receive.

Caregivers can also benefit from the information provided by this techno­logy, as the AI system continuously searches for best practices. This can minimise caregiver load, increase productivity, and assist people with dementia in remaining as self-sufficient as feasible.

Challenges of AI in dementia care

There are many challenges to using AI to support and transform care for people with dementia. In addition to the complexities of the disease, AI systems face many challenges when designing and delivering effective solutions for people with dementia. These include better system safety, privacy, bias, data protection and effective system interoperability and data exchange.

Furthermore, AI systems often need to make highly complex decisions that depend on massive amounts of data, which are then analysed by increasingly sophisticated machine-learning algorithms.

Finally, with dementia being such a complex disease, new data sources and layers of analysis are needed to create accurate diagnoses, track progression and monitor symptoms and side effects of treatment.

AI-based systems for diagnosis

AI-powered systems can identify dementia sooner by analysing massive amounts of data for trends that human doctors may overlook. While this may appear to be a simple notion, the issue is locating the appropriate data to analyse and developing the right programme (algorithms) to analyse that data properly.

Dementia symptoms, for example, can vary significantly across people, and symptoms may not be noticed until the disease has progressed considerably. This can make it challenging to find the correct data to analyse. AI can analyse data from social media, security cameras and other systems that create vast volumes of data with numerous information streams, medi­cal records and physicians’ notes.

AI-based systems for monitoring and tracking

AI-based solutions can assist patients who have dementia in tracking their symptoms and the course of the disease. This can help people organise their care better, and assist medical experts to better understand how dementia evolves.

It can help carers better understand and assist a person with dementia, reducing caregiver stress and anxiety and allowing caregivers to offer better care

Tracking symptoms such as mood, sleep quality and nutrition, for example, might give insight into how dementia affects a person’s life and how the illness develops. This technology can help people with dementia better understand their condition and make more informed decisions.

Furthermore, it can help carers better understand and assist a person with dementia, reducing caregiver stress and anxiety and allowing caregivers to offer better care.

AI-based assistive systems

AI-based systems can help people with dementia and their caregivers manage medication. They can provide information and reminders about medication schedules, help track the effectiveness of drugs and suggest alternative medications if necessary.

As a result, such technology can assist people with dementia in avoiding difficulties from incorrectly administered medicine and assist caregivers in helping their loved ones take their prescriptions as recommended.

However, AI systems can also be more practical in helping a person in the kitchen, for example, by using a refrigerator that can identify and order groceries and record and provide feedback on an item you may already have removed or displaced. A wide variety of so-called SMART appliances are incorporated with AI systems that have the potential to contribute to assisting a person with dementia to function better and live longer in the community.

Data protection and privacy considerations

It is critical to guarantee that data is anonymised correctly to preserve and keep patient information secret. This data may then be utilised to train and develop artificial intelligence systems. As a result, AI systems to assist people with dementia must be created with data security and privacy in mind.

Bias in AI-based systems

As AI systems learn and improve by training on massive volumes of data, they may detect patterns that reflect the biases of the data on which they are taught. While some have argued that this could be an issue with AI systems designed for people with dementia, it has not been shown in practice.

As AI systems grow and evolve, it is essential that the people designing and building these systems keep bias in mind and actively work to minimise it. This includes making sure that ethical considerations are integrated into the design process from the start.


Dementia is a problematic condition that affects millions of individuals every year. Memory loss and loss of language, thinking and emotions may greatly influence people’s lives. These losses might make it challenging to prepare for the future, live independently and enjoy life.

AI can change how we care for people with dementia by supporting physicians in earlier diagnosis, assisting carers and assisting people with dementia in better tracking their symptoms and understanding how the condition is progressing.

There are several advantages to employing AI. However, so far, it cannot replace the human touch in taking decisions based on circumstance and stage, and providing adequate care as humans can.

Furthermore, most studies on AI improving the quality of life focus more on early to mid-stage dementia than the later stages. Therefore, the human touch is here to stay, while AI is here to help.

Jason Farrugia is an occupational therapist with a special interest in dementia care at St Vincent de Paul Residence. Farrugia is also a member of the Maltese Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics.

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