There’s been a lot in the news lately about robots assisting elderly people in their homes and in long-term care facilities. When I first read about this concept, I thought it sounded too impersonal and perhaps even a bit creepy. But as I learn more, I see real advantages to using robots to supplement human caregivers.
Japan is the worldwide leader in the development of robotic caregivers. With a rapidly growing elderly population, as well as a significant shortage of nursing staff, this high tech country is the perfect stage. Other countries such as Australia, Germany, Denmark, and the United States follow close behind. The major roadblock at this point is the cost. But as with any modern technology, prices are anticipated to go down over time.
Here are several ways robots can potentially help people living in nursing homes:
- Escort residents to destinations within the nursing home.
- Lead a game of BINGO.
- Alert staff if a resident falls.
- Assist staff to lift or transfer residents.
- Lead an exercise class.
- Retrieve items and carry them to the resident.
- Provide virtual visits with family or friends via a computer screen.
- Decrease loneliness by reading or singing to a resident.
- Give bed baths. (Yes, really!)
- Communicate with a resident in numerous language options.
- Monitor the location of residents with a diagnosis of dementia.
- Remind residents to take their medications and monitor that the meds were taken.
- Provide virtual visits with physicians to minimize trips to the ER or clinic.
- Challenge a resident’s mind with games and questions.
- Provide companionship in the form of robotic pets. Check out this lovely video about a robotic cat who lives in a nursing home:
How would you feel about yourself or a loved one being cared for by a robot? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.