The Case for Robotic Pet Therapy
Posted January 2, 2018
1

Dementia care in the Chicago area makes the case for robotic pet therapy among consumers studied. The benefits mimic those of conventional pet therapy models, but with added conveniences and applications.
Studies have shown that animal-assisted therapy has distinct and significant benefits for seniors, including those struggling with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The obstacle to access to the therapeutic advantages of a pet may be the individual’s ability- and environment- to care for a live animal. New research suggests that robot-assisted therapy is an effective and practical alternative, manifesting in robotic pets for seniors with dementia.
Talk to your provider about how to implement animal-assisted treatment into your senior’s life, or to learn more about robotic pet therapy. Don’t have a provider? Contact Senior Living Experts for practitioners in the region.

The case for robotic pet therapy:

A case can be made for animal-assisted treatment models, so why not robot-assisted therapy? This trend emerged from Japan with the manufacture and dissemination of a robotic seal called “Paro”, which was designed to provide comfort and companionship for elderly individuals that may not be in a position to care for a live pet.  Great care went into the design of this robotic pet to make it consumer-friendly, including how it looks and how it responds to stimuli, i.e. being petted, held, or spoken to.
Take a look at some of the benefits of pet therapy- including robotic options:

Companionship

Loneliness can come with dementia, and pets seem to be a source of great joy- especially for seniors that lack social interactions.  Since aphasia is another symptom of this debilitating condition, many seniors may become isolated and non-communicative; interacting with a pet can counter this tendency. Furthermore, as symptoms worsen, some seniors with dementia may not respond well to a lot of stimulation, such as visits and gatherings, which makes a pet a viable way to provide comfort and companionship.

Engagement

It is reported that seniors with dementia establish close bonds with their robotic pet, and its impacts may also ripple to those seniors, family, and caregivers around them. A pet- robotic or otherwise- can provide a topic of conversation and commonality among seniors living in communal settings or assisted-living type residences. A study once demonstrated how seniors living in a VA home seems more engaging and social when visiting the on-site aviary, using the birds as a common topic of conversation. Engaging with others is something that shouldn’t be minimized when looking at therapeutic interventions with dementia patients, as the ability to socialize and tolerate being around other people may wane as symptoms increase and the condition progresses.

Relaxation

Sitting with and petting an animal- including a robotic one- decreases anxiety and agitation, which can be a frequent symptom among dementia patients. It has been measured and established that spending time with companion animals can lower blood pressure and improve overall mood. Furthermore, animals of any kind can provide something for seniors with dementia to focus on. A pet can provide a distraction for dementia patients that are confused, forgetful, or searching for the right words. Instead of fidgeting and constantly moving about, many agitated seniors are able to self-soothe by stroking a pet and reduce signs of anxiety and nervousness.

Purpose

Taking care of a pet combats passivity and gives seniors the opportunity to be a caregiver for someone- or something- else. This purpose also can help many with the motivation and drive each day needed to live with dementia. Tending a live animal may prove overwhelming for many who live alone, but this doesn’t diminish the yearning for a task and reason to get out of bed; a robotic pet- based on the studies that reinforce the potential bond- could fill this void in a more practical and prudent way.
Japanese techies have paved the way for social robotics in this country, with a very promising future in additional medical applications. Consider investing in a robotic pet for your loved one with signs of agitation, anxiety, depression, or confusion, and provide a means of comfort and companionship that can be compared to the benefits of a live pet. The option of having a robotic pet may increase access for seniors, which can improve outcomes and prognoses overall.

Dementia care in the Chicago area:

Caregivers in Chicago face distinct challenges when working with seniors exhibiting dementia or symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Access alternative resources- such as robotic pet therapy- to combat the debilitating effects and to improve the overall quality of life.
Do you need a provider to learn more about accessing animal-assisted treatment?  Senior Living Experts can help you tease-out practitioners and experts in the area. Robotic pets show promise as another tool to help combat the debilitating symptoms of dementia in seniors, which makes it prudent and vital for caregivers widely.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

avatar