Technology has become such an integrated part of our lives. We essentially use it everyday, from our cellphones to our smart homes. Robots are a piece of the puzzle of technology which is currently being tested out in elderly caregiving. So far, we’ve seen robots work exceptionally well in terms of making the work easier for assembly line workers and shopkeepers. However, will it be useful in terms of caregiving for dementia patients?
Robots can be a valuable tool when it comes to caregiving. Caregivers for dementia patients experience a great deal of stress on a daily basis as they have to manage caring for their loved one and keep up with their other responsibilities. It can sometimes get exhausting. Caregivers can only provide the best care for someone dealing with dementia when they are well rested and in a positive state of mind. Robots can help alleviate the stress that caregivers feel by providing them their much needed break. In practical application, robots are seen to remind patients to take their medication, engage them with brain stimulating activities such as riddles, jokes, and rebuses, and prevent them from wandering away from their homes. This allows the person dealing with dementia to spend more time in their homes rather than at memory care facilities. For families, this can be extremely beneficial as you want to stay with your loved one for as much time as possible.
There is the other aspect of robots to consider as well: emotional connection. Robots can help with everyday chores such as reminding the patient to exercise, being able to contact medical professionals and even keep a track on where the patient is. However, one of the most important things for dementia patients is the social support. When someone is dealing with dementia they lose their cognitive abilities, however, they can still feel emotion. Human touch and presence can really comfort someone dealing with dementia. Currently, there are robots modeled to imitate an animal such as a cat or dog to provide comfort for a person dealing with dementia. However, is this truly enough? Can robots really replace humans in terms of caregiving? As of right now, it is essentially not possible, but we are heading toward a future where robots will be more prominent in healthcare. They are an essential tool, and valuable in terms of taking care of an individual’s mental wellbeing, but only humans can emulate the much needed emotional comfort. That can change though as technology evolves and robots, through machine learning can learn to imitate human behaviors and emotions. As the healthcare industry moves forward with their testing of robots in the field of caregiving, we will be able to see just how effective robots can be as well as the importance of human feeling.