It can be heartbreaking for families to bear the thought of elderly loved-ones isolated in care facilities or at home during the pandemic fearful, lonely and unsettled by changes in routine and loss of social interaction. Communication technology can provide a connection for seniors able to navigate video chat platforms and online social groups, but for older adults with dementia, social distancing may be confusing and worsen agitation, mood and quality of life.
To help ease some of the effects of social isolation, Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs is providing 375 robotic pets to isolated seniors and adults living with dementia. People living in nursing homes or at home with a caregiver are likely spending increased time alone during quarantine, with few options for social interaction. These robotic dogs and cats can help ease the burden on caregivers while providing comfort and companionship to people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
According to a recent CNN report, Ageless Innovation, a robotic pet manufacturer is also partnering with the Association on Aging in New York to distribute Joy For All Companion Pets to isolated seniors with dementia. Up to 1,100 interactive cats and pups will be placed with older adults who have limited social interaction helping to bring joy and ease loneliness during isolation.
Because social isolation can directly affect not only mood but physical health, the companion pets that don’t require feeding or veterinary care can have a positive effect on high blood pressure, chronic illness, mobility, cognitive decline, heart disease, stroke and infectious illness. Pet therapy has long been used to decrease stress and anxiety among patients with dementia and according to a recent study, robotic pets can also be emotionally beneficial and may help reduce the use of psychoactive medication and pain medications in elderly patients with dementia.