NY POST - The Florida Department of Elder Affairs on Monday announced that it began delivering nearly 400 — 375 as of this writing — therapeutic robotic pets to “socially isolated seniors and adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD).”
The agency said the dogs can help combat social isolation and depression among older adults and those with ADRD “by improving overall mood and quality of life.”
“Family caregivers may experience a reduction in stress, and caregivers benefit when companion pets allow increased engagement with the older adult and their environment,” it added.
I'll be honest, I wasn't sure about this when I first read it. Sure, I appreciated the department's initiative to help the elderly community during this time of isolation, but I didn't think robot dogs were the answer.
For one, technology and the elderly don't exactly mix. If these seniors are isolated, who is going to help them when a problem arises with the pup? What if the dog runs out of batteries and they can't figure out how to get the batteries out? Are they just going to have to sit there and watch their pup mechanically die? That sounds absolutely traumatizing! Worse yet, what if the dog flips and the senior pulls his/her back trying to bend over to pick it up?
There are so many things that could go wrong and leaving these folks to fend for themselves just doesn't seem right.
Which brings me to my second point... I don't trust robots. Maybe that makes me sounds like an old lady myself, but I'm more than ok with that. I love senior citizens - they're my favorite people to talk to! I don't want them left alone with a machine that is "designed to respond to motion, touch, and sound." Who knows what can happen!
But then I watched a bunch of videos and saw the smiles these robo pups put on seniors' faces and I'm officially sold.
If robots do end up being the reason for our demise, at least they did some good along the way.