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Could robots keep older adults engaged and happy?

Written by Diane Archer

 Lots of work is underway to design robots that help older adults in a wide range of ways.  And, significant research has been undertaken on the benefits of robots in caring for older adults.  Robots can provide company and many types of stimulation and assistance to people who are living alone. The research shows that older adults like them.  Time will tell whether robots become a way to keep isolated older adults engaged and happy.

In some instances, researchers have found that robots reduced stress levels for older adults and improved health.  Robots also helped to keep people from feeling lonely and to make them smile.  And older adults tended to be more communicative as a result of being around robots.  Some evidence suggests that robots can help decrease the level of dementia for some people.

In a study of 13 moderate to severe dementia patients, a humanoid robot was programmed to conduct music therapy, storytelling, language sessions and exercises that the robot described and performed.  The initial results show potential benefits for patients with moderate dementia, engaging their attention.

The Accompany Project is working to offer a robotic companion for older adults that provides social, physical and mental assistance in daily home activities. Care-O-Bot 3 can bring you a drink and open the door for you. It can also provide emotional support. Click on the link to watch a video.

According to the International Federation of Robotics, four million service robots for personal and domestic use were sold in 2013. And the market is growing. The cost is still exorbitant for a robot that provides personal assistance like the Care-O-Bot, at $270,000. But the price is expected to drop sharply.. And, these robots could allow older adults to continue to live independently in their homes rather than a nursing home.  With time, we can only imagine the caring and help a robot could offer people.

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