How socially assistive robots can make daily living easier for the aging

The future is here. Today, technology is advancing the robot beyond the simply cute to the seriously helpful. This article from McMaster Optimal Aging portal shares how socially responsive robots are including benefits that may help us age in place longer.

Certainly there is still a lot of debate on an individual’s comfort level with artificial assistants, but it is gratifying to know that smart minds are working on technology that is designed to help people age in place.

And most of all at HiLois, we believe nothing ever replaces the human connection. See below how you can help us with our social isolation app beta.

Science fiction books have been talking about it for decades. Thanks to robotics, we have now created prosthetic robot-arms, robotic surgical assistants, robotic aids to clean the house while we’re gone, as well as robotic dogs. The logical next step, in a context of aging populations, was to develop robots that can deliver care to older adults or could assist caregivers and health professionals. In recent years, socially assistive robots have been tested.

In 2016, IBM created the Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (MERA) prototype based on the Pepper robot developed by SoftBank Robotics in Japan in 2014. MERA can analyze videos of a person’s face and measure vital signs like heart and respiratory rates. The robot can also answer basic questions about health, as well as identify when an individual is falling (1; 2).

In recent years, research has focused on the perceptions and experiences of people aged 50 to 95 related to socially assistive robots. A recent systematic review identified 23 studies on the subject. Four major themes emerged from these studies: 1) the roles of socially assistive robots; 2) their interactions with older adults; 3) their appearance; and 4) the ethical dilemmas that they raise.(3)

What does research tell us?

The systematic review reveals that older adults envision socially assistive robots playing certain roles such as performing physically difficult tasks, reminding them to take their medications or go to an appointment, entertaining them and keeping them company. Such robots are also seen as a safety device that can warn relatives or health professionals in the event of a fall or deterioration of health.

  • Socially assistive robots can help older adults perform their daily tasks, assist them in their care and keep them company.
  • Older adults have diverse views about the roles of socially assistive robots, their appearance and their ability to interact.
  • Ethical considerations need to be taken into account, as some older adults worry about the use of socially assistive robots.Science fiction books have been talking about it for decades. Thanks to robotics, we have now created prosthetic robot-arms, robotic surgical assistants, robotic aids to clean the house while we’re gone, as well as robotic dogs. The logical next step, in a context of aging populations, was to develop robots that can deliver care to older adults or could assist caregivers and health professionals. In recent years, socially assistive robots have been tested.

The Bottom Line Socially assistive robots can help older adults perform their daily tasks, assist them in their care and keep them company. Older adults have diverse views about the roles of socially assistive robots, their appearance and their ability to interact. Ethical considerations need to be taken into […]


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