Robot caregivers have the potential to provide direct care services to the elderly, reducing the risk for depression and social isolation, increasing independence, providing a solution for the shortage of healthcare workers, and diminishing the chances of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities.
Robot Caregivers for Aging Adults
Automation technologies like robotics could offer viable, long-term solutions for elderly care in the near future. In the U.S., the senior adult population has steadily increased over the last decade and it’s expected to increase even more in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a need for more than 800,000 new home health care aides within the next 10 years in America. Although technological advances have made it easier for seniors to live on their own, most seniors need assistance with daily tasks as they age. With difficult physical demands, low wages, and few benefits, it’s predicted that there will a significant shortage of paid caregivers for elderly adults in the future. Robot caregivers could be the answer.
While some robotic caregivers will be mechanical, human-like workers, others will not resemble people at all. Some will be automated devices that are designed to help aging adults with everyday tasks like sitting and standing, eating, bathing, dressing, cooking, and completing personal care tasks. Others will serve as specialized assistants that dispense medications, health monitoring systems that alert humans when issues arise, and video communication systems that enable seniors to chat with doctors and nurses. Robot caregivers may also help reduce loneliness, depression, and anxiety in seniors who live alone and have few social interactions.
While some tasks that require human interaction won’t be possible, robot caregivers offer many advantages in nursing home facilities. The major advantage is their ability to work around the clock without food, rest breaks, and a good night’s sleep. For senior adults in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, robot caregivers could prevent the possibility of nursing home abuse and neglect that has now become a major national health concern. About 35 percent of nursing home residents report some type of physical or sexual abuse while living in a facility, and it’s suspected that many more incidences go unreported.