Robot Animals Help Elderly With Dementia
Reading up on the latest research on ageing I have seen a study conducted by Northumbria University on the benefits of a robotic animal – specifically a seal pup, being used in a care home with the elderly, especially those with dementia. When compared to a group of residents who took part in a reading group, the robot animal group were less stressed, and overall it had a positive influence on their quality of life.
The toy seal has in-built software and touch sensitive pads so that it can respond to sounds and touch. It can also make noises to show it is surprised or happy. To the untrained eye it looks like a stuffed toy, but these medical devices full of technology cost $6,000 each!
“The findings showed the robots had a positive, clinically meaningful influence on quality of life, increased levels of pleasure and also reduced displays of anxiety.” Source:carehome.co.uk
Here is a video of President Obama meeting a couple of the pups in a visit to Japan, where they are made.
In previous posts I have mentioned the benefits of animals to the elderly as people like the companionship, tactile sensations and lowered blood pressure effects that petting cats or dogs provide. The Paro Robot has been discussed before also, most notably in The Lancet in this article, which again covers the benefits of these creatures to the elderly.
What could we add to a stairlift to create the same effects? Furry seat covers and arm rests? A purring sound as it moves? What ideas do you have? Let us know below.