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Research indicates that pets can provide plenty of benefits for people who own one, but for residents living in a nursing home, owning one isn’t always an option, which is why robot cats are growing in popularity as their robot companions.
Although not to be seen as a complete replacement for real animals, robot pets are proving to be a viable alternative for older adults who are looking for a fuss-free and low-maintenance robotic pet that can give them similar benefits and in some cases more advantages over its living counterparts.
The question arises, how can robot cats help residents in a nursing home? Before answering this, let’s first clearly define what robotic pets are.
Robot pets are artificially intelligent human-made machines made to resemble their living counterparts, which are usually cats and dogs. Unlike stuffed animals, these are programmed to be interactive and in some models, adaptive.
Aside from having plenty of robot pets to choose from such as robot dogs, pups, and of course cats, there are also many benefits to owning a robot pet, which is why it is becoming a common and popular choice as an alternative pet for older people.
An owner of a robotic pet can feel secure that it will continue to “live” or run even without the usual care and services done to a living pet as it needs only minimal maintenance in upkeep.
Robotic cats are the AI counterpart of real cats. There are models that are lifelike and designed with “fur” and features such as a “heartbeat”, but there are also those that are made to look more like a robot. Regardless of the design or model, it makes for an interesting scene in seeing how real cats react to them, but more so for new owners of these feline robots where reactions go beyond the superficial.
Robot cats are programmed to ultimately be a lifelike alternative to pet cats and serve as a companion for those who may not have the option of owning a real one. Primarily, these are made with older adults in mind, which is why robot cats have many uses for residents living in nursing homes.
Residents in a nursing home often feel lonely and depressed due to being isolated from the outside world and away from family members. This was especially heightened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic wherein people living in homes were mostly put in strict social isolation to protect their health. A robot cat can help in combating loneliness and depression for a resident who lives in a nursing site by being a 24/7 companion.
A robot cat can stay beside a person everywhere at all times while providing a hassle-free companionship that only requires minimal responsibility. Unlike real pets or pet therapy cats that will only visit every now and then, robotic cats can permanently stay on-site and interact with a resident who is in need of company at their convenience.
Especially for senior citizens who used to own a real cat but because of mobility limitations or a diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia-related illnesses, a robotic cat can help in filling the void of loneliness caused by having the need to part ways from their feline friend then. Regarding the latter, those suffering from memory loss need not worry about providing the usual long-term care or services needed in owning a robot cat; its life is not dependent on food, exercise, and water but rather a purpose in being a robot partner to its owner and goes without saying, batteries.
On the note of feeling secure, an owner can also be assured that the robot cat will not wander off contrary to its living counterpart. Given how cats are known to be independent animals who tend to venture alone outside the home, these robot felines are sure to stay on one’s lap or wherever one would like to secure them. A resident may leave the site, but they can always come back to find their robot feline friend exactly where they left them – safe and secure.
More often than not, an older adult who stays in a nursing site is ordinarily diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia-related illnesses. Suffering from such would entail that the patient has certain mood disorders and behavioral symptoms like depression, aggression, and anxiety. Although there are also services on site provided by the facility to help secure any dangers and assure families that their loved one is given the best treatment, research has found that a robot cat can also help improve mood, behavior, and even cognition of elder patients with mild to moderate dementia.
With its lifelike features, expression, interactive functions, and to an extent “warmth” of a robot cat, it is able to socially interact and form an emotional bond with its owner. By doing so, the resident in the home gets to experience a sense of joy, love, and comfort that one most yearns for thus, helping in improving one’s overall mood and quality of life inside. There are top stories about people in nursing facilities who even cry when they receive the robot pet as they treat it as a real one.
What can make you feel secure? For older adults living in a home, having a robot cat is the answer. Volunteers in nursing sites have mentioned how there would be cases of residents who refuse to speak or because of their diagnosed disease, have lost the cognitive ability to. However, volunteers have reported that robot cats or robot dogs have helped in triggering a part of their brains and memories that allow them to express themselves even temporarily.
Acting as a medium that can make them feel safe and secure, a robot cat can also be used as a conversation starter and ender. It becomes the tool that can signal when someone can or can’t talk to them especially when they are placed in social interactions they are not that comfortable to be in.
A robot cat is a perfect companion for life for our loved ones who are living in such care facilities. Ideally, families are encouraged to visit the nursing site of residence as regularly as possible, but because of certain limitations and especially given the pandemic, these loved ones are put into strict isolation for their protection.
A robotic cat is a potential solution for this, but beyond that, it can also be a gift that keeps on giving — one that can make them feel secure while giving endless joy that is unconditional but low maintenance.
With all that said, if you’re looking for a feline companion for your loved one, you can take a look at our guides for the best robot cats in the market, or the best robot pets for dementia, Alzheimer’s patients, and the elderly.