Seated at a table together, the two female nursing students smile as they listen to a lecture by an unseen teacher.
Caregiving students can connect to seniors via smartphone tools. (Image Credit: SDI Productions / Getty Images)

For caregiving students looking to gain experience — and college credits — working with older adults before graduation, a fast-growing app can help connect them.

The healthcare tool CareYaya uses artificial intelligence to link students to older adults in their area. It is now offering art therapy tools on its platform. 

CareYaya was named this week as a finalist for a pilot award from Johns Hopkins University for research on aging and AI.

Although the tool itself is aimed mainly at older adults living independently, many of the students can use the caregiver training to pursue work in a long-term care setting. 

CareYaya has been around since 2021, but the AI capabilities are newer, and the company is continuing to expand into new regions, including the San Francisco Bay area. 

The AI component also is designed to help older adults living with cognitive disabilities or dementia; the students can help them use a tablet to pull up images designed to prompt memory recall.

Earlier this year, the startup launched a tool, Cara, to help caregivers plan meals for older adults and prepare medical documentation.

Although CareYaya’s AI component is novel, many programs around the country are aiming to pair student caregivers with older adults, either to provide clinical training or just help combat elder loneliness. 

Another digital platform, ScrippsAVID, virtually connects older adults living with dementia with younger volunteers to collaborate on “failure free” art projects. 

One Minnesota program even places high school seniors in senior living and care settings, McKnight’s Senior Living reported earlier this year.

Overall, nursing students are embracing technology as a way to help connect with older adults, although some concerns remain about how well current older adults will react to tech tools, a recent survey indicated.