What Are Support Animal Robots?
One of the most significant challenges in senior care is fighting feelings of isolation and loneliness. When residents spend most of their time away from loved ones, they can quickly develop these feelings, which impacts their health. Support animals have been a popular solution for some time.
Support animals have a successful history of preventing these conditions, but they come with some obstacles. Some people have animal allergies or may feel uncomfortable around them. Some care centers have recently turned to robotic support animals as a solution.
Support animal robots are still a new technology, but they’ve shown impressive results already.
Here’s a closer look.
When you first hear “robot animals,” you may think of the electronic toys from the ‘90s and early 2000s. Support animal robots are far removed from these products. They’re remarkably lifelike, even responding to human touch and simulating a heartbeat. They’re also hypoallergenic since they don’t have fur.
These robots look, feel, and sound like real animals, providing companionship without the same responsibilities. Patients don’t have to worry about allergies, and there’s no need to take these “animals” for walks or clean up after them. In turn, seniors have come to love these robot pets too.
When the Florida Department of Elderly Affairs started using them, they quickly had to quadruple their order to keep up with demand. The Alabama Department of Senior Services noticed demand rose amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as more residents feel lonely since they can’t see their families.
These mess-free and allergen-free companions have proved effective in helping seniors amid trying times.
Accessible Stress Relief
Robot pets can also provide some patients with a more accessible solution to stress relief.
On top of being allergen-free and requiring little care, robot pets can be a lower-cost alternative to some treatments. Studies show that these robots reduce loneliness and improve mental well- being. They can even improve a patient’s sense of purpose.
A growing number of insurance plans now cover robotic pets, mitigating their costs. As a result, more care centers and even individual patients can afford these pets. This affordability can offer some needed financial relief, given how high some medical costs can be.
Some options don’t cost much, even before insurance. As a result, they can be a lower-cost alternative to drug therapies or other treatments, without the same complications, too.
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Other Support Animal Technology
Support animal technology goes beyond robotic pets as well. Wearable devices for dogs can help owners monitor their service animals’ health and activity. Since 53% of U.S. dogs are overweight, this visibility into these animals’ health can be crucial, ensuring these companions live as long and as well as possible.
Other wearable technologies help expand the services that service animals can provide. Computerized vests can play audio messages, letting these animals communicate with people. People can use this to either improve companionship with these pets or help service animals get help from other humans.
Similarly, some companies have developed vibrating dog vests to let people communicate with animals nonverbally. This nonverbal communication helps people with hearing loss or other communication obstacles give commands to their pets.
Robots Bring the Benefits of Support Animals to New
Support animals are some of the most helpful services that elderly care centers can offer. They can provide accessible, drug-free stress relief and some needed companionship. Now, robotics and other technologies expand these benefits.
Robotic support animals and other pet-related technologies bring these treatment options to new audiences. Support animals are becoming more accessible and versatile by the day, thanks to these innovations.
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Shannon Flynn - Managing Editor at ReHack
With over 4 years of writing and editing experience, Shannon focusses on covering topics like medical, health, and lifestyle technology.
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