Pets are always a positive influence in our lives, and many are wondering how we can use them for better senior care. There have been studies exploring the idea of real pets vs. robotic pets. There are good and bad aspects to both.
There have been many versions of the robotic pet, starting with AIBO dog, a metallic looking beagle that in it’s final form used artificial intelligence to interact with its user.
Then there was Paro the Seal which was designed specifically for people with dementia. It’s soft white fur and life like eyes made it fun to interact with.
Innova Lab’s PLEO robotic dinosaur, is a plush animatronic camarasaurus, was introduced as a robotic pet. It had a special sensory system and interacted with its environment.
The newest iteration of the robotic pet comes from Hasbro. With a line called Joy for All Companion Pets they are hoping to bring a little bit of love to seniors. The line has Golden Pup, Orange Tabby Cat, Creamy White Cat and Silver Cat With White Mitts. They interact with their owners and even have a realistic heartbeat to listen to. These are pricey though, at a range of $99 to $132.
There are many positives to a robotic pet. There is no need to feed it or clean up after it. People don’t have to worry about tripping over these pets like real ones. They are allergy friendly and don’t bring in any bugs, they don’t get sick, and there is no unpredictable behavior.
Real Pets Vs. Robotic Pets
But the thing is, they aren’t real. There is something special about interacting with a real animal that cannot be explained. It brings out the human need to nurture that doesn’t go away as memory starts to fade away.
Animals can sense emotion and lick you if you are feeling down or lay their head on you to provide comfort. Some retirement communities have live pets to perk up the residents and the care for each pet falls to the staff.
Residents that are fall risks stay seated to pet a cat in their lap. Another person with high anxiety after meals would stay to talk to a turtle.
There’s a study that shows people gravitate more towards live animals but the robotic ones are a great option when a live pet isn’t available.
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