You may have read about a robotic cat or seal that provides comfort and companionship for elderly adults with dementia, but recently a California-based company has developed a lifelike robotic puppy for dog lovers who can no longer care for a live pet.
Tombot, launched in 2017, is a project of love sparked by developer Tom Stevens whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and was devastated when she was no longer able to live with her beloved Goldendoodle. The robotic puppy prototype, modeled after an 8-10 week old Labrador Retriever, is able to respond to it’s name and several voice commands. It makes life-like puppy sounds and expressions and was carefully designed to feel and act much like a live animal. However, the robotic puppy won’t get underfoot like a real animal could and was designed to remain safely up on a chair, sofa or lap where it will not be a tripping hazard for older adults.
Not only does a robotic companion soothe agitation for adults with dementia, the puppies can give emotional support and help combat depression, anxiety, loneliness, aggression and frustration for people with Alzheimer’s or other conditions such as autism. For caregivers of people with dementia, the companion animal that will never bite, have accidents, require walks or need to be fed can be a lifesaver.
Even better for patients; having a robotic animal companion may lessen the need for some medications by easing anxiety naturally. Patient experience a sense of responsibility and value in caring for a pet and often use the puppy as a conversation-starter helping them stay engaged when memory loss and confusion would otherwise cause them to withdraw.
Interested in pre-ordering the Tombot robotic companion or learning more? Follow this link to the company website.