Robotic Pets Cure Senior Loneliness


WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Many of us have felt lonely during the pandemic, but for seniors in assisted living, the past year has been especially isolating. But the interactive companionship of a special kind of pet, is helping. Ivanhoe has more!

Meet … My Love. Yes, that’s her name. She looks and sounds like a real dog, but she’s not. She’s one of two dozen life-like, robotic therapy pets, at this skilled nursing facility.

“I hug her, give her a kiss, tell her I love her, and it makes me feel real happy,” shared Kim Turner, a nursing facility resident.

The dog and cat therapy pets have built-in sensors that respond to touch and voice. There are also built-in speakers allowing them to pant, woof, bark, and purr.

For resident Joe Ingram, it’s especially comforting. The dog reminds him of a collie, that was given to his son, who died of cancer.

“Well, it brings back the past for me and I feel good because I feel it seems like I have a connection there,” said Joe.

The pets have been important therapy during the isolation brought on by the pandemic.

“They bring them joy, they’re comforting, they’re soothing, they help reduce depression and just overall, they’re a healthy distraction,” explained Aaranisa Clay, LLMSW, Director of Social Work at West Bloomfield Health and Rehabilitation Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

The residents can ask to play with the pets whenever they want, making them feel less cut off from loved ones.

The robotic pets cost about $130 each. The nursing home received them through a state grant.

Contributors to this news report include: Hillary Rubin, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Ken LaPlace, Videographer.

REPORT #2859

 BACKGROUND: According to the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, there are approximately 28,900 assisted living communities in the United States today with nearly 1 million licensed beds. Some assisted living communities specialize in serving individuals with specific needs. These can include Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and particular medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease. These facilities are able to provide services and care an elderly person may otherwise not receive. Some typical services can include 24-hour supervision and assistance, exercise, health and wellness programs, housekeeping and maintenance, meals and dining services, medication management or assistance, personal care services, and transportation.


BENEFIT OF ROBOTIC PETS FOR SENIORS: Owning, interacting, and caring for a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities and may be difficult as we grow older. However, older adults and seniors living in nursing homes can still gain the benefits of pets through modern robotics. Robopets can provide many perks of a real pet without all of the responsibility. In a study on Paro, a robotic baby harp seal created by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and its effect on hospital/nursing home residents, researchers found that those who interacted with the robopet were less lonely over the period of the trial. These robopets are becoming a common fixture in assisted living communities and, as years go by, will become more advanced at mimicking real animal behaviors. While some believe that robopets can’t compete with real animals, the companionship they provide to older adults cannot be denied.


ONE-ON-ONE SENIOR CARE IN THE COMFORT OF HOME: For many seniors and families, moving into a long-term care facility often means giving up a certain level of control and self-reliance. It can be difficult to adjust to the new environment, particularly when they are used to doing things on their terms. Non-medical home care, respite care, or companion care is about making sure seniors get the support they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives while continuing to live in the comfort of their home. Studies have shown the majority of older adults prefer to remain in their own homes as they grow older. Home care is a powerful way to help seniors live independently all the while leading an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting with their community, and nurturing meaningful, lasting friendships with the one-on-one attention that a companion provides. Compared to other forms of long-term care, home care is usually more flexible, more reliable, more convenient, and more affordable. Home care is about making sure that older adults get the support and attention they need.



* For More Information, Contact:

Aaranisa Clay                                                                         Scott Jackson                                           


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