Saturday, February 13, 2021

Older Adults and Robotic Dogs: Meet Aibo

Imagine wanting a pet dog, but knowing you don’t have the time, living space, or the energy required to walk and play with it as regularly as its needs require. Many older adults who fit that description might benefit from a robotic dog that responds to them in ways that alleviate their loneliness and soothes their cravings for love and attention. Years ago, I learned that such a dog existed in the form of Sony’s robotic dog named Aibo, which was being tested in nursing homes.

I was so impressed with the pleasing possibilities this little charmer could bring to older adults, especially lonely ones, that I included a robotic dog story in my book Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing HomesIn the chapter titled Baby Boomer Haven, a resident takes the reader on an imaginary tour of a nursing home based on best practices including a a robotic dog: 
“Watch out for Diva Dog over there, one of several resident pets. She’s just looking you over to make sure you look her over. In her spare time, she’s a certified psychologist. For residents who prefer the convenience of a responsive robotic pet, we have two mechanical dogs that operate with artificial intelligence. They provide playful companionship without the need for feeding, walking, and cleaning up after them. The best part about the robotic dogs is that the more residents interact with them, the more responsive the dogs become to the residents. All the animals here are like our extended family.”
Robotic dogs are also used in therapy for residents living with dementia.

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. Frances Shani Parker's Website