If you haven’t yet heard bout ChatGPT, Bard, or the other AI tools that have recently taken the world by storm, well, you are either living under a rock or you’re fully consumed in your caregiving duties for a loved one. Either way, there is no time like the present to get yourself acquainted.
Not only have these new AI tools become game changers for students, engineers, and really anyone trying to cut down on the amount of work that they need to do with their own skills and brainpower, ChatGPT can also be a powerful tool for those caring for older adults (or caring for children or spouses for that matters).
In this article we’ll do our best to quickly cover the basics of using a tool like ChatGPT as well as provide a few ideas on how you might use ChatGPT to help you care for a loved one.
What is ChatGPT?
Well, there is no better way of getting to the bottom of the story than to ask ChatGPT itself…so that is what I did.
“Hey ChatGPT,” I typed into the prompt box, “What is ChatGPT? How does it work? How would you describe it in relatively simple terms?”
And here is the answer that it spit out:
“ChatGPT is like a highly advanced digital chat buddy. It’s created by OpenAI and is based on a huge amount of data from books, websites, and other written content. When you type a question or a statement to ChatGPT, it quickly searches through its vast ‘knowledge’ and comes up with a relevant response. It doesn’t think or feel; it just predicts the best possible answer based on the information it was trained on. Imagine if you combined the chat feature of a messaging app with the brainpower of a supercomputer—that’s ChatGPT.”
I couldn’t really explain it much better myself.
The way that I often like to think of ChatGPT (or Google’s Bard) is that it is like using Google, but rather than need to click on a dozen pages and create my own synopses of what I’ve learned, trying to get multiple opinions on a subject matter and figure out what the most popular answer are, ChatGPT does the synthesis for me. It’s almost as if it has read the top 100 results for any given question, synthesized the information, figured out what the common thoughts are, and then summarized it in a very human-like way.
It’s a bit frightening and a bit amazing all at once.
How do I properly use ChatGPT?
This is the right question to be asking.
At it’s very base, the program is very, very simple. You could simply say “tell me about the Tyrannosaurus Rex” and you’ll get a solid answer.
But remember, this is a computer that you’re speaking to. Unlike talking to a human being, who instantly understands context, you need to feed context into this computer.
So, in order to get the answer that you really want, make sure you give some background to your situation. Something like this:
“I am a college student majoring in English. I want to write an essay that compares the plight of the dinosaurs to the plight of the characters in the Harry Potter. I’m looking to create similes between the T Rex and Harry Potter himself. I’d like this information to include references to their look, their daily lives, and their natural instincts. Please provide me a few paragraphs that will help me write this essay.”
This seemingly impossible task will be completed by ChatGPT in a matter of seconds. Don’t believe me? Copy and paste it there right now and see for yourself.
But more importantly, what you should understand here is that you need to feed ChatGPT some context.
If you’re looking for answers to a question as a caregiver, let it know that you are caring for your mom. Tell ChatGPT some relevant information, same as you would a doctor or a therapist. Start off by typing something like “I’m a 55 year old woman who is caring for her 86 year old father. He has mild dementia and he lives in my guest room.” Then continue with your question from here and ChatGPT will take your situation into account.
Moral of the story? Provide context before asking the question. And, be as specific as possible if you want a specific result.
Some ways to use ChatGPT as a caregiver
Craft a sensitive email to medical staff. It’s not rare to feel exasperated when it comes to medical processes, hospital procedures, or hospice services concerning an aging parent. We often draft emotional responses in the heat of the moment. ChatGPT can transform your message from an angry outcry into a well-crafted, courteous yet assertive email, maintaining a constructive relationship with the healthcare team.
Figure out nutritious meals for specific dietary needs. After a medical procedure or with age, dietary restrictions often change. Ask ChatGPT for recipes that match your parent’s current dietary requirements. Whether you’re trying to utilize ingredients you already have or adapting to new medical advice, ChatGPT can assist in crafting nutritious meals that fit the bill.
Plan stimulating activities tailored to their mobility. While planning a day out or looking for in-home activities, ChatGPT can quickly suggest activities suitable for seniors with mobility issues or cognitive challenges. Give the bot specifics, and it’ll generate ideas tailored to your parent’s capabilities.
Decode medical jargon from health reports. Medical documents can be laden with terms that are hard to understand. ChatGPT can assist in breaking down the complex terminology found in your parent’s medical records, offering clearer insight into their health.
Understand paperwork and forms. Whether it’s understanding insurance policies or senior community agreements, ChatGPT can distill bureaucratic language into simple, comprehensible explanations. You can further inquire about specific benefits, limitations, or requirements to get a clearer picture.
Draft caregiver instructions or a health history summary. Preparing instructions for new caregivers or summarizing an elder’s health history can be daunting. ChatGPT can assist in crafting these by taking in basic info (keeping privacy in mind) and returning a well-structured document.
Juggle numerous appointments and medications. If you’re grappling with multiple medical appointments, prescription schedules, or therapy sessions, share the details with ChatGPT. It can suggest an organized routine, alleviating the stress of scheduling.
Narrate your caregiving journey for reflection. The journey of caring for an older parent can be emotionally taxing. Sharing your story with ChatGPT might offer a fresh perspective or simply serve as an outlet for expression. It might even surprise you with an uplifting prediction of your caregiving journey.
While nothing will ever replace real human interaction, AI has come a long way and can really help us spark ideas or provide quick answers when we need them most and don’t know where to turn. While we can’t rely on ChatGPT to do the caring for us, it’s an incredible new tool that we can lean on, relieving us from just a bit of the stress of caring for a parent.