Robot Companions for the Elderly
What Is a Robot Companion?
Robots are taking over the world.
You can see them in stores, at doctor visits, and in the mall.
They come in all shapes and sizes.
No doubt you've seen some commercials for talking, walking robots for children.
Well, companion robots for the elderly are similar.
They are designed to help provide emotional support for people suffering from things like dementia, PTSD, grief, depression, and anxiety.
The elderly are often left alone for long periods, and it's easy for them to become sad and feel isolated.
Social robots can help brighten up the day!
They are useful for emotional therapy, but some companion robots can provide medication reminders, assist with specific activities, and provide safety for older people by connecting them to help via video or telecommunication during an emergency.
Science has proven that pet companionship and robot companionship both provide positive benefits.
In a study that compared the two, robots provided more emotional relief.
The Science Behind Social Companion Robots
The University of Auckland in New Zealand did a study to determine if the social companionship robot would make any significant difference in an older adult's life in a hospital or long-term care facility.
They used a seal robot and a resident companion dog to see if there was any significant change to feelings of loneliness.
They found that "residents who interacted with the robot had significant decreases in loneliness over the period of the trial."
This has been duplicated by other studies into robotics and elderly care.
You can read the study by the University of Auckland here.
Benefits to Social Robot for Elderly People
Whether you're an older person looking for some companionship to help you through the long days or if you want to find a way to bring happiness back into the life of an older loved one, there are a lot of benefits to using an emotional support robot.
You or your family member may have significant mental or physical issues, making it hard for you to get out to socialize.
There are multiple robot options for you to choose from, which will supplement your social interactions.
Some robots are designed specifically to help with certain age-related illnesses such as dementia and some of the symptoms of old age (e.g., memory loss, lack of focus, etc.).
One of the essential uses of robotics in elderly care is filling a loneliness gap.
If you live alone or in a care facility, but feel like you're missing connections in your life, then a robot may be precisely what you need.
While human companionship is ideal, it is not always possible.
Pets can also be problematic for some people who cannot walk, feed, or provide entertainment for their pets.
You don't have to worry when it comes to a robot.
As long as you have an outlet, then they are good to go.
Robots give all of the companionship without any of the drawbacks, and they are available 24/7.
The same benefits that have been seen in animal therapy are present with robotic companions — decreases in anxiety, stress, and an increase in positive moods.
You can get a robot dog, cat, seal, or other creature if you find yourself more comfortable with the idea of a pet instead of a roaming computer.
Some of the cheapest companion robots on the market are meant to simulate sleeping dogs or cats, which can be soothing.
Or you can get a humanoid robot with the latest in technological advances.
The Best Robot Companions on the Market
We have searched for the highest quality, top-rated companion robots currently available on the market and have compiled a comparison guide to find the one that would work best for yourself or your loved one.
Most of the robots take an animal or humanoid form, and they come in various price ranges.
Below are some of the most affordable companionship robots from three of the most popular companies that provide multiple types, colors, and sizes of companionship robot animals.
Golden Pup (For People With Memory Loss) by Joy for All
This very soft companion is in a sitting position.
The robot works by battery power and can bark and move when turned on.
It's soothing for people to pet the soft fur and interact with a life-like pet.
The dog will bark in response to being talked to, and both the head and tail move.
This adorable little guy is designed to help people relax and feel calm when they may otherwise be anxious due to increased memory loss and cognitive malfunction.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon
Silver Cat With White Mitts (For Joy and Companionship) by Joy for All
Joy for All is a company that has created many different animal robots.
They have won awards and been shown on the news and television multiple times for their products for older people who need a little more joy and companionship.
They have various types of animals with multiple features.
This particular robot looks and feels like a cat, including movements and sounds.
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon
Husky Breathing Pet (For Companionship and People With Memory Loss) by Perfect Petzzz
These fantastic little robotic huskies breathe and look like they are sleeping.
It also comes with accessories, including a bed, adoption certificate, collar, tote bag for travel, toys, and a dog food bowl.
It 's designed to increase calm and contentment.
The dog looks like a small breed that is restfully sleeping.
It comes with a bed and a brush for the synthetic fur.
This highly affordable companion robot will keep you or your loved one feeling happy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon
Advanced Interactive Robot Companions
Below are a few of the best robotics companies in the world and the therapeutic robots they have to offer for companionship.
These are much more advanced and, as such, aren't as easy to purchase.
Some of them, like the Blue Frog Robotics product, are only created in a limited number due to their price and complexity, so you would need to reach out for more information.
Blue Frog Robotics (Buddy the Emotional Robot)
Buddy is much more than a simple robot.
Billed as the very first emotional support robot, it has multiple uses, including the following:
- Fire detection
- Capable of sending alerts
- Remote controllable for emergencies
- Smart Home
- Can connect to your Smart Home system and be controlled via voice commands
- Social Media Connection
- Able to connect to social media accounts, play video, images, and connect to calls
- Can play music
- Can record video footage
- Personal Assistance
- Monitors weather and news
- Able to provide reminders and share memos
- Entertainment Apps
- Comes with games and memory exercises
- Programmable to add more
- New Apps Can Be Added!
That is a massive list of capabilities for one little robot.
It's capable of emoting through its screen.
These are also capable of moving themselves around a home.
The body of this robot is curved so no sharp edges, and it moves around using three wheels.
You can find out how to sign up for this companion robot here.
PARO Robots (PARO Therapeutic Robot)
This adorable seal robot is called Paro, and a large portion of scientific research done for social robots and elderly care involved this specific robot.
They're designed as a therapeutic tool.
It's certified as the "World's Most Therapeutic Robot" and has won awards and proven that robots can give you or your loved one much needed social stimulation.
This is a genuinely revolutionary robot companion for elderly individuals.
Not only is it incredibly helpful in multiple ways, but it's also adorable and cuddly.
This seal is large enough to be a comforting presence while still small enough for you or your aging loved one to carry around and cuddle around the house.
It moves, makes noises, and learns from your reactions.
You can see more details here.
SoftBank Robotics (Pepper, NAO, Whiz)
This company has created multiple world-famous robots, including Pepper, NAO, and Whiz.
You can find out more about their robots on their website here.
Out of their three smart robots, only Pepper is created to be a social robot and interact with people.
However, this robot is most used by retailers and businesses to interact with customers and check-in guests.
According to its website, "Pepper is the world's first social humanoid robot able to recognize faces and basic human emotions."
This animated little robot has soft curves to make it safe and a screen on its chest for interaction through text and image.
While it was designed for reading humans and interacting socially, there are many applications, including using it as an interactive companion to someone who is stuck at home most of the time.
It moves on wheels, has fully moveable limbs, and speaks 15 languages.
Unlike NAO, this robot is nearly four feet tall and does not need to be manually moved from one area of a home to another.
It's fully capable of moving itself.
There is a whole host of robotics designed to make you feel safe, comfortable, and loved.
No matter your lifestyle, there is a companion that can be there for you or your loved one.
Each year, more advancements are made in emotional therapy robots, and you can bet that these little guys will be in care homes and hospitals around the country in ten years.
You don't need to wait.
These little buddies are scientifically proven to give their owners a sense of purpose, motivation, and relaxation.
Out of the options we have listed, there will be one that is just right for you or the aging person that you love.
Choose whichever robot is right for you or your loved one and relax in the knowledge that you have found an adorable new friend.