Robots And The Future of Elder Care
Would you be willing to allow a robot to be a live in nurse for your aging loved one? In 2050, the elderly are going to account for 16 percent of the global population, equating to 1.5 billion people who are over the age of 65. Being able to care for these seniors is going to be mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging for many people. Experts claim that there will be a shortage of professionals who will be trained and able to handle the task. As a result, some are thinking that an ‘elder-care robot’ may be the next best option.
Robots have the potential to be able to handle many of the needs of an aging population. One software engineer has developed a model elder-care robot known as the P37 S65. The robot can monitor senior patients can communicate with doctors while providing some basic care to the senior and offering them some companionship. Antonio Espingardeiro, the engineer, feels that there is a great potential for robots to become caregivers. They would be able to use seniors and cameras to help supervise an elderly individual and make sure that they have taken their medication or that they won’t fall.
Smart-home technology is helping to address some of these concerns, such as using seniors to help track patterns and detect when something isn’t right. In a fully automated house, a stove that has been left on for too long or someone who seems to be deviating from their normal daily routine can trigger an alert for the caregivers. However, robots would be able to take this element much further. They would be able to help people who were suffering from dementia by reminding them about daily tasks and handling their important information, like phone numbers or medication. If they had conversational skills, they might be able to keep an aging person’s mind sharper by keeping them active in conversation and playing games with them. They might even be able to help track their progress or loss of memory.
Robots that had computer screens could be used to be telepresence machines. They would be able to bridge the gap between health care professionals and the elderly. Since not all seniors are healthy enough to travel to the hospital, doctors could check in on their patient more often by using the robot’s screen instead. They might be able to control the machine remotely to handle simple tasks such as taking vitals. Family members could communicate remotely with a parent or grandparent via the same robot to help keep them company. Japan is already experimenting with elder-care robots in their nursing homes. So far, they have had desirable results and feel that the project is worth continuing. The government is looking to robots as a solution for is growing elder population and has even set aside around $24 million of its budget for research and development in senior care robots.