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How Robots are Revolutionizing Senior Care

Amid other healthcare demands like the lack of affordable services, another challenge faced by the country is the growing necessity of senior care. Data from the United States Census Bureau indicates that the growth rate of the elderly population is at an all-time high. In the past 100 years, the number of older adults aged 65 and above increased from 4.9 million (or 4.7% of the total U.S. population) in 1920 to 55.8 million (16.8%) in 2020, representing a growth rate of about 1,000%.Unfortunately, the healthcare system is also currently facing a workforce shortage — making it unlikely for the labor supply to meet the care demands of elderly patients who are disproportionately vulnerable to health and mobility issues. However, the advancing field of robotics can address this need and revolutionize senior care through the following benefits and applications.

Assistance with daily activities

Whether it’s due to reduced mobility or health conditions like dementia, older adults struggle with daily activities such as preparing and eating meals, putting on clothes, and remembering to drink their medications. Considering the limited number of personal caregivers, families, and senior facilities can deploy assistive robots to lighten the physical workload of caregivers.For example, the UBTECH Smart Elderly-care Cloud-based Platform combines intelligent robots and artificial intelligence to provide nursing and care services to seniors living at home or in health facilities. Besides assisting in daily care, automated navigation, and memory-loss prevention, the robots can also be used by seniors for rehabilitation exercises.

Support for mental and emotional health

While a previous post explains how some individuals can struggle with mental health maintenance due to introversion, seniors usually experience mental illnesses like depression because of isolation and lack of social support. Fortunately, robots can serve as companion pets that can be a great alternative to living companions through their interactive play features.Robot Pet Finders lists the best robotic pets for the elderly, and one of them is the Joy For All Freckled Pup, which is ideal for seniors with its bark-back technology, lifelike-heartbeat, and robotic sensors for realistic responses like nuzzling and wagging its tail. While these robotic pets can’t fully replace social interactions, they can still be a fun and convenient source of companionship.

Remote health monitoring

Image credit: Pexels

Seniors require continuous health monitoring to help manage or detect potential health problems like diabetes and heart disease. But instead of in-person nurse visits that cost time and money, robots can be deployed to monitor vital signs like heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure and sugar levels.Research published in Springer Link notes how controlled mobile robots in home-care nursing can work in three different scenarios, namely tracking patients’ sequence of movements, helping them perform a gait cycle outdoors and indoors, and verifying their health status by measuring their vital signs. The study also highlights the importance of a user interface to allow interactions and communication between the robotic device, patients, and physicians.

Physical safety and security

Lastly, robots can also improve and maintain seniors’ physical safety and security by reducing the risk of fall injuries. Considering one out of four older adults falls every year and sustains injuries like broken bones and a concussion, advanced robots with artificial intelligence algorithms can monitor risky scenarios and locations and alert seniors in real time. They can also be integrated into communication systems with caregivers and emergency responders to provide immediate assistance to injured individuals.Overall, increasing robotics applications in the health sector translates into a wide range of benefits for senior care. Whether these robots are deployed at home or in hospital settings, it is important to monitor their actions to identify areas of improvement and possible ethical considerations, such as data privacy and security

Article written by Ruth Jesson

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