Older adults anticipate their relationships with ‘helper’ robots: study

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Penn-State.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]How older adults (65+) respond to the idea of ‘helper robots’ which may be a part of their future lives span a wide range. The key seems to be that they are ‘most advanced, yet acceptable’ (designer Raymond Loewy’s MAYA dictum) when they perform passive ‘physical, informational and interactional’ tasks–‘helpers and butlers’ in the researchers’ terms. Robots which kick it up a notch and are more autonomous, making its own decisions without direction, are far less acceptable and perceived as ‘robot masters’. “Seniors do not mind having robots as companions, but they worry about the potential loss of control over social order to robots.” That is a leap that goes forward, in the lead researcher’s terms, to how the media has portrayed robots as shaping older adults’ perceptions. A team from Penn State University’s Media Effects Research Laboratory surveyed 45 older adults — between ages 65 and 95 years old — at a senior citizens’ center in Pennsylvania. Published in the Interaction Studies journal. Penn State News Hat tip to our former Northern Ireland Contributing Editor Toni Bunting. On the other end of the age spectrum, an earlier study by the same lead researcher noted that older people were quite concerned about the effects of robots on young people and the desire for parental controls, lest the robots might encourage laziness and dependency. Penn State News (2014)

Your Friday robot fix: We need robot caregivers

I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems, but I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability. She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line.

It’s not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn’t want to be “locked up in one of those homes.” What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile.

What she needs is a robot caregiver.

—Louise Aronson, MD

From a medical practitioner and geriatrician is a view on robots as not dehumanizing, but a source of companionship, comfort and ‘always on’ emergency assistance for older adults and the disabled, particularly those who live alone. Dr Aronson also advocates assistance robots for everyday tasks such as bed transfer, lifting and dressing assistance. Mentioned favorably: PARO the Japanese ‘seal’ robot, MOBISERV Kompaï, Sweden’s GiraffPlus but notable by omission GrandCare Systems, the GeriJoy tablet-as-pet companion and (perhaps too new) the JIBO ‘family robot companion’ [TTA 18 July]. She also makes the apt point that those of us who’ve spent most of our adult lives interacting with machines will be quite comfortable with robotic companions. The Future of Robot Caregivers (New York Times) Also Katy Fike PhD from the Aging 2.0 group takes a look in their blog at Dr Aronson’s insights as well as JIBO.