To look at the robot, a person old enough might think back to the late 1980s and some Hollywood movies depicting such advanced technology, but these robots aren’t about bringing entertainment or fetching a cold beverage from the fridge; these latest innovations are designed to provide a level of support, care, and assistance to aging seniors at home.
These devices are not replacements for in home care aides and other support individuals, but rather as a supplement. The robots, called RUDY, has the potential to allow elderly men and women the opportunity to remain home for longer than had been possible in the past. Not only can RUDY provide a number of activities and directives, it also allows family and possibly even friends to check in on the senior through Skype.
In a transcribed interview by Teresa Carey for PBS, titled, Meet a robot offering care and companionship to seniors, it was mentioned:
“In March, to supplement her home care assistant, Robertson was given the opportunity to try RUDY, a robot designed by Anthony Nunez, CEO and founder of INF Robotics, a Northern Virginia start-up.
Nunez hopes RUDY will help prolong seniors’ independence. He built in features where caregivers, emergency responders, or family can check in remotely through a Skype-like interface, and steer RUDY through the home in search for the senior.
And, as with any technology, there is a learning curve. Nunez created RUDY because of what he witnessed growing up.”
While the technology is still in the experimental stage, some who have tried it so far believe there is great potential in what it offers. Some of the early testers have found that it can be useful in offering physical support, especially for frail or weaker seniors who may not be able to perform many of the basic tasks of everyday life on their own. But, it’s not just the physical component that’s raising eyebrows.
It’s also about companionship. As one senior noted, “You can talk to him all day, and he responds to you. It was good to have somebody to have a conversation with, let’s put it that way.”
Companionship is the one component of in home care support that isn’t covered by insurance or Medicaid, and it’s also one that remains fundamental to emotional health and well-being. Though artificial, the benefits RUDY might offer in the future are promising, and it’s not intended to be a replacement for in home care aides, but a supplement to them, and that could help an industry that’s currently struggling to find reliable, dedicated help for an aging population.