Helping Hands: Robotic Assistance in Supporting and Maintaining Social Interactions with Elders

The use of robotic assistive devices in nursing homes, residential facilities, and homebound elders has rapidly increased as technology has improved. Researchers have argued that robotics will play a significant role in the coming decades. Lifelike animals provide visual and physical stimuli to impaired elders. Still, more advanced technology now allows robotics to provide communication support, reminders, and the ability to interact with family members and offer eldercare virtually. Alternatively, some care advocates have expressed concern that robotics will become a substitute for in-person interactions between elders, family members, and support networks. There are also concerns that the extensive use of robotics may negatively impact the quality of care received by the individual from residential providers. This panel will offer an authoritative discussion of the positive uses of robotics in supporting and supplementing the care of homebound, disabled, or cognitively impaired elders. While recognizing the potential risk of abuse if robotics becomes a substitute for care, the panel will emphasize how robotics can improve the emotional health of elders and best practices to ensure that robotics represents a supplemental tool to improve the overall quality of life of the older population.

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Posted by IAFOR