Many older adults wish to “age in place,” by remaining in their homes with assistance, and to stay socially engaged with friends and family. Fortunately, new advances in technology are providing solutions to combat these challenges of isolation.
Today, seniors have the opportunity to stay connected at home and to build meaningful relationships and stay healthy and active through technology, like AI (Artificial Intelligence), robotic pets and devices like Alexa.
In this blog post, we will explore an Italian pilot program using robots to help seniors stay mentally engaged, the potential of AI chatbots to combat loneliness, and the various technology options now available to improve older adults’ lives.
Robots can promote engagement
Recently, The New York Times reported on an innovative program in Italy testing robots to help seniors stay mentally engaged. This program uses robotic pets to provide companionship and socialization opportunities for elderly people who are isolated and relieve the burden on caregivers.
The article said that Italian families, who are challenged to provide care for their loved ones at home, were eager to embrace technology after the demonstration. “You want to hug it,” said Annarita Caliumi.
Elsewhere in the world, a study conducted by Stanford University in Japan found that robot adoption could benefit Japan’s aging society. The researchers found that nursing homes in Japan that adopted robots provided better care for their residents and actually had more, not fewer, team members caring for them.
AI can help combat loneliness, provide virtual assistant services
New advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can help combat loneliness by providing seniors with chat bots that offer companionship and meaningful conversations. A chat bot can help reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety by providing engaging conversation topics and listening without judgment or criticism.
In addition to companionship, chat bots can also offer practical solutions for older adults as a virtual assistant. A chat bot could help seniors with banking or medical appointments, if they have mobility issues or limited transportation options. They could place orders online or book appointments over the phone. AI could afford older adults greater independence and the comforts of home, while still being able to access important services.
Robotic pets at Westminster Oaks offer residents the benefit of a furry companion
At Westminster Oaks, a Life Plan Community in Tallahassee, residents in Assisted Living and Nursing Care can enjoy the benefit of a furry companion with special robots — a Joy for All Companion Pet. These robotic companions can open and close their eyes, lift their paws, open their mouths and move their heads and bodies. They are especially appealing to residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and help create meaningful interactions with visiting loved ones.
Mildred Trezza, a resident at the community, gave a Joy for All companion pet to her friend who recently moved to Assisted Living. She chose a yellow tabby cat as the robotic pet, because it reminded her of a beloved pet named “Butterscotch.”
Many other technology options are now available to improve older adults’ lives
Today, with the assistance of technology, seniors and their families have many options to help stay connected, as well as stay healthy and keep their homes safe for older adults. The range of technology options that can help seniors stay active, healthy and socially connected is vast. This can help promote “aging in place,” where residents stay in their homes with the assistance of new services to support their changing needs. For example:
- Smart pill boxes can be set up to open at certain times, or to notify family members when their loved one doesn’t take their medication.
- A voice assistant device, like Alexa, Cortana or Siri, can help older adults access technology services using a familiar, voice-based format.
- Smart home security systems and cameras can allow family members to virtually check on a parent or loved one.
Westminster Communities of Florida offers residents My W Assistant. That is a special, Alexa-enabled voice assistant package that they can use to learn about the day’s calendar of lifestyle activities, find out the dining menu and more. Because My W Assistant is powered by Alexa, it can also control their lights, thermostats and more.
In short, advances in technology have made it possible for seniors to benefit from both practical solutions such as virtual assistance tasks and enjoyable activities such as interacting with robotic pets — all from the comfort of home. With so many options available at their fingertips, it’s easy to see why seniors are eager to take advantage of these new opportunities in order to improve their quality of life while remaining safe and socially active at the same time!
To learn more about the ways that technology can enhance the lives of older adults at a Westminster community, find the community that suits you!