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Should You Include a Robot Pet in Your Care Plan?

Should You Include a Robot Pet in Your Care Plan?
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/elephant_robotics/p/C45ko7MtkqO/]

Credit: @elephant_robotics on Instagram

Should You Include a Robot Pet in Your Care Plan? Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there is a bounty of evidence that proves social interactions are invaluable to patients. Experts from the Alzheimer’s Association explain that regular socialization can uplift spirits and act as a means of grounding patients. This is why many care plans include regular family visits, group therapies, and the like. 

However, since some patients require more consistent and intimate companionship, many healthcare specialists suggest taking on a pet. On top of helping boost cognitive function thanks to the stimulation they provide, pets can also help improve physical wellness by encouraging seniors to move more. Unfortunately, for all the perks that a furry friend can bring, they do require resources that not all patients or carers can provide. This is where robot pets can come in, which is why they’re worth considering for an Alzheimer’s care plan.


Understanding robot pets

As their name implies, robot pets are non-living machines designed to look and act like pets. Today, robot pets mimic different animals, but the most common take after domesticated pets like dogs and cats. As such, they can pur, bark, meow, accomplish basic tricks, and even respond to unique stimuli, depending on the manufacturer. For instance, ELEPHANT ROBOTICS’ MetaCat Ragdoll can recognize up to 29 voice commands to perform “tricks.” At the same time, it has three built-in sensors so it can react appropriately to physical touch. With these abilities, robot pets can provide the same comfort and stimulation that real animals can, albeit in a more controlled way.

Why robot pets are great for Alzheimer’s patients 

So, just how can robot pets help Alzheimer’s patients, in particular? Firstly, by providing companionship without requiring a patient to overextend themselves. Just as having company is great, some patients may find themselves overstimulated when there is too much energy going on around them. With robot pets, there is no risk of this happening, as they can be turned on and off as needed. Second, robot pets can help with elderly psychology by coming with pre-installed features that can encourage patient participation. For example, while robot pets don’t need to be fed real food, patients can still groom and play with them. This can enhance cognition over time.

Next, robot pets can also be customized to suit a patient’s needs. To illustrate, patients who are prone to feeling anxious may enjoy a model like ROYLCO’s Theo the Therapy Dog. Designed to have weighted paws, ceramic beads that can be cooled or heated, and a soothing lavender aroma, this robot pet can help calm a restless patient. Finally, since Alzheimer’s is a progressive chronic illness, the cost-effectiveness of robot pets cannot be overlooked. So long as they’re stored properly and charged regularly, robot pets require relatively simple and budget-friendly maintenance. This is also helpful for carers who can actually integrate robot pets into their patient’s routines. All of these benefits are why some healthcare providers have already begun offering robot pets to their patients. Case in point, over 5,000 robot pets have already been distributed to those with dementia in Alexandria, Virginia. 

In closing, robot pets definitely have a role to play in Alzheimer’s care plans. While some may still prefer traditional furry companions, the ease of robot pets means that they can provide multiple advantages without compromising the patient, the carer, or the real-life pet.

Article written by Rosette June

Fading Memories was created to support family caregivers in a simple, on-demand form. When I was looking for advice on caring for my Mom, I needed this podcast. Since it didn’t exist, I created what I needed!
Jen – pod host

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