Robotic Pets for Seniors Help Ease Dementia and Loneliness

Jennie has big brown puppy dog eyes, soft fur and a tail that keeps on wagging. If you scratch behind her ears, she’ll lean closer to you for more. She even barks on command. But Jennie’s not a dog. She’s a robotic pet for seniors from the California-based technology company, Tombot.

Tombot works to create social robots that are designed to ease loneliness in seniors and comfort people with dementia.  

A 2018 survey regarding loneliness in seniors showed that about one third of older adults regularly feel lonely, which can trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression. More than 20 percent of people over the age of 60 are affected by neurological disorders, including dementia, which can also cause depression and anxiety. Tombot is one of several companies looking to put robotic technology to good use for seniors struggling with mental and cognitive issues. Recent research shows animal-assisted therapy can improve mood and quality of life for seniors, including those with dementia.

While it’s still unclear as to whether or not robotic pets for seniors are as effective as their real life counterparts, a recent review of studies on computerized pets for dementia patients linked them to lower levels of depression and agitation. And since they don’t need walks, food, or veterinarian care, cuddly robots like Jennie can be a great option for people who are no longer able to care for a pet.

“Pets play an important companion role, whatever your age,” said Andrew Sixsmith, director of the Science and Technology for Aging Research Institute at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. “For some people with dementia, a real pet might not be feasible, so this might help.”

At Grand Oaks of Palm City, our residents enjoy both real-life and robotic dogs. Our resident “real” dog, Tucker, regularly makes his rounds to bring smiles and companionship to our residents, and a robotic dog like Jennie brings comfort and joy to those living in our Memory Care Center. We are also a pet-friendly community for those who want to call Grand Oaks their home and bring their beloved dog with them.

For more information or to schedule a complimentary tour of Grand Oaks of Palm City, visit us at http://www.grandoakspalmcity.com or call 772-324-5024 today!

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