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Eldercare robots: Robot Assistant For Elderly People

Eldercare robots

One of the most remarkable achievements of modern medicine is that more of us are living longer. Unfortunately, this means more pressure on younger generations to care for older people for longer. Robot assistants for the elderly are becoming increasingly popular, mainly because they can cater to older adults who live alone. 

While robotics and humanoid solutions cannot completely replace a human companion, Eldercare robots could bridge the gap. An elderly care robot companion can be the difference between loneliness and complete autonomy, which can be dangerous for older people.

Eldercare robots can provide companionship and complete basic tasks; some are already on the market. They offer utility by providing reminders for medicine, deliveries, appointments, and special occasions. Some assistive robots can give physical and mobility support to seniors.

There is concern about a growing population of older people without caregivers, and elder care robots are a potential option to alleviate this concern. Personal assistants, and elder care robots, can provide much-needed support and care. 

However, leaving elderly relatives alone with a robot for an extended period of time may not be the best way to promote their well-being. Nevertheless, Join us as we unpack what senior care robots are, why we need them, and the implications of using them with our elderly citizens.

What Are Eldercare Robots?

Robot assistants for the elderly
Image Credit: Canva

A senior care robot is an artificial intelligence (AI) designed to provide basic care and assistance to elderly or disabled individuals. Also known as social robots, these devices are programmed to provide companionship, assist with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), and monitor health status.

While there is no one-size-fits-all design for senior care robots, many are equipped with voice recognition, touch sensors, and artificial intelligence algorithms that allow them to interact with users naturally.

Additionally, most eldercare robots are fully mobile and can move around the home as needed. While senior care robots are still in the early stages of development, they have the potential to revolutionize the way we care for our aging population.

There are several reasons why eldercare robots could be beneficial. First, they can potentially improve the quality of life for seniors by providing them with companionship and assistance with activities of daily living.

Additionally, senior care robots could help reduce the burden on caregivers by taking on some of the caregiving duties.

Finally, senior care robots could also help reduce senior care costs by providing a more efficient and cost-effective way to deliver care.

While there are many potential benefits to using elder care robots, some challenges must be addressed.

First, it is important to ensure seniors are comfortable interacting with robots. Additionally, it is important to ensure that eldercare robots can effectively perform the tasks they are designed to do. Finally, it is important to consider the ethical implications of using robots to care for seniors.

Eldercare Robots in Nursing homes

robot caring for an elderly woman
Image Credit: Canva

According to a Nature article, some robots used, especially in nursing homes, consist of a simple exoskeleton designed to help nursing staff lift and carry patients. Others, like PARO, a pet seal Robot (robotic pet) are intended to resemble a pet and provide solace and comfort.

As mentioned above, a key benefit of using robots in nursing homes is that they can help lift patients. This is particularly beneficial for patients who are heavier or who have limited mobility.

In addition, robotic assistance can help reduce the risk of injuries for patients and staff. Another advantage of using robots in nursing homes is that they can help improve the quality of care.

For example, robots can provide one-on-one attention to residents, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, robots can perform tasks such as taking vital signs or delivering medication.

This frees up nurses to provide more personalized care to residents. Ultimately, the use of robots in nursing homes is part of the assisted living facilities that help improve the quality of life for residents and staff. The Toyota Care Assist robot is an example of a nursing care robot developed by Toyota Motor Corporation.

Toyota Care assist with a nursing care robot

The Toyota Care Assist robot is a new nursing care robot developed by Toyota Motor Corporation. It is designed to assist patients with basic needs such as bathing, eating, and dressing.

The robot has sensors and cameras to identify and respond to the patient’s movements and commands. In addition, the robot is equipped with an arm that can be used to lift and move objects.

The Toyota Care Assist robot is being tested in Japan’s nursing homes. If the tests are successful, the robot could be introduced into hospitals and other healthcare facilities worldwide.

Why Do We Need Robots For The Elderly?

There is a growing shortage of caregivers for the elderly. In 2019, the UN released a report stating that by 2050, one in six of the world’s population is expected to be over 65 years old. 

Japan is expecting a shortage of around a million caregivers by 2025. With the shortfall expected, many caregivers and engineers are looking to AI and robotics to step in.

There is no denying that some elderly people may be willing and able to live alone. It can, however, be a terrifying prospect that something could happen to your loved one while they are alone. 

Eldercare robots are a somewhat successful means to ensure your elderly loved one is cared for to some degree. Moreover, family members can be notified should something happen.

Eldercare robots are helpful in many ways. One way is that they can keep patients with dementia calm and satisfied at difficult times of the day.

Certain care robots are designed to play games with seniors and keep them company. Some are good at human-robot interaction and provide companionship throughout the day, reminding them to take medication and attend other important events.

Specific robot assistants for the elderly grant remote access to doctors when needed. In addition, they are programmed to notice changes in behavior or situations that are out of the ordinary. This makes them particularly helpful for elderly citizens living alone.

What Robotic Assistants For The Elderly Are Available?

Eldercare robots have been in development for many years. However, companies have ramped up production in anticipation of a massive shortage of caregivers for the elderly. So, they have started rolling out these helpful robots.

hanson robotics
Image Credit: Canva

In 2021, Hanson Robotics jumped at the opportunity to repurpose their Sofia and Hanson robots for use during lockdowns. They realized that many people, elderly and otherwise, would be alone, afraid, and possibly depressed during the pandemic. 

They changed their already life-like robots to allow them to take temperatures, lead morning exercise, remind people to wear masks, and more. 

We chose five of our favorite eldercare robots. They are:

  1. BUDDY
  2. ElliQ
  3. IPal
  4. Sam
  5. Robear

Let us examine each of these in some detail.

BUDDY

Blue Frog Robotics brings us our first pick, BUDDY. We love this care robot since it is excellent for your elderly loved ones and children or adults with special needs.

BUDDY has three wheels and moves around the house autonomously. It has real-time mapping and acts as a security measure while you are out.

Blue Frog Robotics BUDDY uses innovative communication technology that allows its cartoon-like face to portray multiple expressions as it communicates with you.

Let us look at a few key roles and features of BUDDY:

  • Easy-to-read facial expressions
  • Mobile by use of three wheels
  • Mapping of the home
  • Object avoidance
  • Connection to other platforms, like social media
  • Reminders of events
  • Social interaction
  • Entertainment
  • Emotional support
  • Home security
  • Access to the information available on the internet
  • Opensource application program

Watch this video to learn more about BUDDY and how it can assist.

ElliQ

ElliQ is a desktop robot designed and produced by Intuition Robotics. The design for this friendly helper is inspired by the adorable lamp in the Pixar logo. 

This robot helper does not have a face, arms, or legs. However, its head can move up and down, and the face lights up when speaking.

ElliQ

Intuition Robotics claims that 90% of elderly people prefer to live alone. With a helper like ElliQ, it is easier to feel safe leaving your elderly relative alone.

This elder care robot performs a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Suggestions of activities
  • Monitoring of physical activity
  • Alerts regarding social media
  • Alerts regarding calls and video calls
  • Companionship 
  • Playing certain games, like Bridge.

Watch this short video to understand how ElliQ interacts with the elderly and helps them. It is interesting to note that the woman in this video describes ElliQ as the best friend you could ever have. This statement demonstrates how integral elder care robots can become for those getting on in years.

IPal

IPal is a humanoid robot caregiver brought to us by AvatarMind. It is designed to assist the elderly and children as monitors, teachers, and companions.

IPal

Image credit: Venturebeat

This 3.5-foot-tall companion robot is great for elderly people who need companionship and care. Let us look at what it can do and a few of its features.

  • Android operating system
  • Touch screen computer on its chest
  • Can call for medical assistance if needed
  • Wheels in two legs help it move around
  • Object avoidance
  • Cameras, microphones, and Bluetooth
  • Touch sensors
  • Highly moveable head, neck, arms, and legs
  • Can sing, dance, and chat
  • Reminders of medication and other vital events

Watch this four-minute video to learn more about IPal and how it might assist in your home. In this video, you will know who can benefit from IPal, and understand a little about the creators.

SAM

SAM was created by Luvozo as a non-medical caregiver for the elderly. While perhaps not aesthetically pleasing, we appreciate SAM’s dedication and singular goal of caring for the elderly.

SAM robot created by Luvozo

SAM has two main goals: preventing isolation and loneliness and preventing falls. With these two goals in mind, the technology used in SAM allows the robot assistant to perform frequent checks on the senior citizen in its care.

Let us look at a few of Sam’s features and what it can do:

  • Mobile
  • Adjustable cameras and screen
  • Sensors
  • Fall assessment system software
  • Interactive screen
  • Nurses set SAM times for SAM to check in on elderly residents based on when they are most likely to fall.
  • News and social updates
  • Senior citizens can send a request to nursing staff via SAM.

Watch this video to understand how SAM can provide a caring service to elderly people.

Robear

This 300-pound bear can help lift and move elderly or disabled patients who cannot manage independently. We chose to feature this helper since it is of excellent service to human caregivers of the elderly.

Although still being tested, Robear, created by RIKEN and Sumitomo Riko Limited, is already making waves in the care industry.

Let us look at a few features and what this caring bear can do:

  • Soft, precise movement
  • Refined sensors for a more delicate touch
  • Retractable legs for stability or mobility
  • Touchscreen control
  • Depth sensing camera (still under development)
  • A cute appearance helps patients feel calm

Here is a short video explaining Robear and how it is being used and tested currently.

Do The Elderly Want Robot Assistants?

The staggering number of senior citizens expected to survive in the future is causing developers to fast-track the design and creation of robot assistants for the elderly.

One question that may arise concerning the use of robots helping the elderly is whether or not older people would accept and enjoy receiving help from a robot. is ideal to consider the generations likely to use elder care robots.

Since predictions regarding a shortage of elderly care are focused on the year 2050, we can assume that people who will be 65 years old in 2050 are currently around 37 years old in 2022.

These are considered millennials. Millennials are typically at ease with technology and readily accept new applications and operating systems.

Since Millennials likely grew up using computers and digital devices, they will probably find it easy to adapt to robot assistants in their old age.

For seniors who are already receiving assistance from robots, accepting and learning how to use a robot fully may be difficult. However, since they are designed for the elderly, they are generally user-friendly and easy enough to use.

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Round Up

Robots could be the answer for elder care in the future. Today, companies are working toward implementing care robots in more senior care facilities and individuals’ homes. Robot assistants benefit elderly people who want to live alone and can perform most functions autonomously.

Eldercare robots are an excellent way to motivate the elderly to stay active, stay in touch with friends and family, and stay in tune with current events. 

In addition, they can contact emergency services when needed and remind their charge of important events and taking their medicine. With so many benefits, there seems no choice but to embrace the fact that you and I might just be socializing with the machines before we know it.

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