New report finds artificial intelligence fuels age discrimination in elderly care

A world-first study by Monash University has found that the use of artificial intelligence in nursing homes for the elderly can exacerbate age discrimination and social inequality.

The paper, published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, shows the unmet value of artificial intelligence (AI) in solving elderly care issues, including resident loneliness, through chat, video and image sharing to medical diagnostic and assessment tools.

The study found that the proliferation of AI technology — from robots to voice assistants — in elderly care may exacerbate age-related beliefs as caregivers decide how best to use technology for older people in these settings.

“AI can perpetuate age discrimination and exacerbate existing social inequalities,” said lead author Dr. Barbara Barbosa Neves.

“When implementing AI technologies in elderly care, we need to think of them as part of a suite of care services and not as isolated solutions.”

The study shows that more work is needed to better incorporate older people’s perspectives into the design and implementation of AI technologies to ensure they can support the sector.

Findings show that ageism can be generated by design that includes views of older people as dependent, incompetent, and disinterested in technology, rather than engaged.

It shows that both AI developers and geriatric caregivers assume that older people lack interest and/or ability to use the technology. This largely ignores the need to be accessible and non-discriminatory to residents of aged care facilities. .

Aged care workers and advocates are critical of the value of AI in solving care problems, given concerns about replacing humans with robots and who is to blame for machine failures.

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The study highlights the need to change stereotypes about aged care residents and staff attitudes, and to develop technology that is designed for and inclusive of older people.

“The use of AI in elderly care must be done with consideration for the potential impact of these technologies on the well-being, autonomy and dignity of elderly residents,” said Dr. Neves.

This comes from the Royal Commission for Quality and Safety in Elderly Care, which stressed the need to prioritize the autonomy and dignity of older people in care.

Learn more about this project – AI for older Australians in Aged Care Facilities: Challenges and Opportunities at the Monash Data Futures Institute.


dr Barbara Barbosa Neves, Lecturer in Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences

dr Neves is an award-winning sociologist of technology and aging. She is an internationally recognized expert on loneliness, social isolation and socio-digital inequalities in older people.

Contact: [email protected]

About Monash University

Monash University is Australia’s largest university with more than 80,000 students. In the 60 years since its founding, it has built a reputation for world-leading, high-impact research, quality teaching, and inspiring innovation.

With four campuses in Australia and a presence in Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and Italy, it is one of Australia’s most internationalized universities.

As a leading international medical research university with the largest medical faculty in Australia and integrated with leading Australian teaching hospitals, we are consistently ranked among the top 50 universities worldwide for clinical, pre-clinical and health sciences.

For more news, see Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences or Monash University.

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