These robot pets are helping people with dementia.
“Even though it’s robotics and it’s a toy, it’s not seen as that by our residents,” Templeman House manager Deanna Barnes explained. “It’s seen as a dog.”
Helen Nicholas was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago after her adult children noticed she was struggled with a familiar task. She is now one of a handful of elderly people in the U.S. testing out a new form of social therapy.
“There has been times where they’ve been engaged with both pets for over 45 minutes,” explained Alzheimer's Community Care president and CEO Mary Barnes. “Now to have that kind of activity going on for that length of time in a whole group setting is amazing all by itself. But then we got more on a personal, one-on-one, especially those patients that really show a real desire to be with this cat or dog ever longer.”
The robotic pets are made by Ageless Innovation. The company develops robotic animals that serve as pets and therapy aids to families and elderly centers across the U.S.
According to a 2016 study, researchers saw a decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression among those who regularly interacted with a robot pet three times a week for 20 minutes.