Monday, January 14, 2013
Robot Caregivers of Older Adults: Do You Love Me? (Research, Video:1:47)
Seriously, can older adults not love Nursebot Pearl? She talks, has a face with interchangeable parts for various emotions, reminds them about important tasks, sends information remotely to caregivers, and provides needed strength for manipulating objects. No, she can’t replace a great human caregiver, but she can certainly hold her own and help older adults stay independent when humans are in short supply. But can they love her?
Researchers wondered, too. In the paper titled Older Adults' Preferences for and Acceptance of Robot Assistance for Everyday Living Tasks, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology showed groups of adults age 65 to 93 a video of a robot's capabilities and then asked them how they would feel about having a robot in their homes. What was their response? Apparently, older adults loved the idea of robots for some tasks, but preferred humans for others:
Loveable Robotic Assistance:
1) Housekeeping and laundry
2) Reminders to take medication and other health-related tasks
3) Enrichment activities such as learning new information or skills
4) Participation in hobbies
Preferred Human Assistance:
1) Personal tasks such as eating, dressing, bathing and grooming
2) Social tasks such as phoning family or friends
Let the record show that older adults can and do love robots under certain conditions. View this video from AARP Tech Beat which explores how robots can serve as home health aides and help people to continue living independently in the future.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.