Labrador Retriever robot helps woman transfer meal to a table, (Credit: Labrador Systems)

Following the launch of ChatGPT, many recent surveys have shown that a majority of older adults are skeptical, or even downright hostile, toward using artificial intelligence and its potential involvement in healthcare. 

Although a new study from Nationwide showed similar ambivalence toward AI, the insurance giant currently is testing the potential for robots to aid in long-term care. 

Overall, no more than 22% of baby boomers interviewed said they were likely to talk to AI when lonely, or even to use AI and robots for assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, Nationwide’s study, “Consumer Perspectives on Long-Term Care,” indicated.

Boomers were most willing to use AI to notify caregivers or family members — that is, humans — in the case of incidents such as falling, with 64% of respondents aged 57 or more years saying they were at least “somewhat likely” to adopt the technology.

In other studies, Americans overall have cited concerns about trust and privacy with AI, or were worried about its use in clinical care and diagnosing conditions in lieu of an actual doctor.

Earlier this year, Nationwide announced a partnership with the robotics company Labrador Systems for a pilot program that uses the latter’s “Labrador Retriever” robot, a personal assistant that can roam and grab items for older adults as needed. 

Interestingly, the study did not just ask seniors what they thought of healthcare, but asked all age groups what they thought of AI in the context of taking care of themselves or their family members after they retire. Overall, younger generations showed more favorable opinions of AI in healthcare.

And regardless of their opinions on AI, older adults showed a preference for aging in place.

“It is difficult for many families to find quality care for their loved ones. We are considering AI and robotics as potential solutions for this and are identifying if eldercare robots could become credible,” Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide’s life insurance business, said in a statement. “As we continue to see advancements in AI and an uptick in consumer adoption, AI and robotics could permanently change how people receive their long-term care.”