As our aging population lives longer, medical services appear to be focusing on well-being attended by robotics more than medication. As robots increasingly replicate more life-like behavior, they can serve as companions and therapy aids to our growing elderly demographic.
Folks with Alzheimers are benefiting from this technology. Its greatest advantage is providing companionship without the burdensome chore of taking care of a real-life pet.
“There has been times where they’ve been engaged with both pets for over 45 minute. Now, to have that kind of activity going on for that length of time in a whole group setting is amazing all by itself, but then we go more on a personal, one-on-one, especially those patients that really show a real desire to be with this cat or dog even longer,” said Mary Barnes, the president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Community Care.
Researchers say innovative robotic pets can counter anxiety that often accompanies dementia and Alzheimer’s, as they’re a proven drug-free way to help reduce stress, depression and isolation.
“The stimulation is keeping everyone animated, keeping everyone socially engaged with each other because they’re with their peers and you can’t ever undervalue the relationship with your peers,” said Barnes.
Some research questions whether the benefits of robotic therapy is lasting? But anecdotal evidence points to companion pets holding a patient's attention longer than other types of activities used by Alzheimer patients. Some of the studies showed caregivers were actually able to reduce Alzheimer medication compared to patients that didn't enjoy the company of robotic pets.
A report from the U.S. Administration on Aging states that more than 30%, or well over 11 million seniors, lived alone in 2018. BUDDY, a companion robot was designed to be an excellent support system for the elderly.
It can help with the welfare of senior citizens at home by providing social interaction. It was designed to remind them about upcoming events, appointments and deliveries. Most importantly, it can also monitor the homes of seniors who choose to live alone by detecting falls and unusual activity as well as provide medication reminders. In addition, BUDDY can ease loneliness by accessing communication technology, such as Skype and Facetime.
JOY FOR ALL
JOY FOR ALL is another robotic pet. It was launched three years ago by Hasbro designed specifically for seniors. It is another realistic pet designed to bring joy, companionship, and happiness to aging loved ones.
Modeled as a cat, this robot responds to petting and hugging, much like the real ones - except they don't require any special care or feeding. And this type of pet/pet-owner relationship can created comfort for seniors without any vet bills to worry about.
Since globally we are all living longer, our needs have shifted. More of us are now living alone into our golden years. Today, we have fewer multi-generational families living together. So to help us adjust in this 'brave new world,' companion robots appear to fulfill our needs more than medication.
Not that today's scientific breakthroughs in medicine are not important to extend one's life . . . it's just as important to address the socialization aspects of life that might be missing in our later years as well . . . and robotic pets look like they are the perfect fit in that regard.
Primary source: CBS