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Robot-pets drafted into Florida care home to cheer up lonely pensioners

(Image credit: Ageless Innovation)

Robotic therapy pets are the latest residents to move into Florida care homes to help seniors cope with anxiety and loneliness during lockdown.

Residents have been missing visits from real therapy animals, so The Florida Department of Elder Affairs enlisted the help of hundreds of therapeutic tech pets for seniors and adults living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The agency initially purchased 375 of the robotic pets, but the feedback from program participants and their caregivers was so positive that it ordered a total of 1,800 to keep up with demand.

Richard Produm, Department of Elder Affairs secretary, said the motorized mutts should provide some comfort and companionship. He added: "We know social isolation disproportionately affects older adults, and Covid-19 has required people with dementia and their caregivers to remain alone for extended periods of time.”

In pre-Covid times, trained and certified therapy dogs visited hospitals and nursing homes, along with their owner/handlers, to entertain and emotionally support patients and residents. 

An alternative to traditional pet therapy, research shows that the robotic pets have similar positive effects and are highly successful in decreasing social isolation for, and depression in, older adults.

The robotic pets were created by Ageless Innovation, a company devoted to developing fun and engaging products for older adults.

The company has also partnered with the Association on Aging in New York to distribute up to 1,1100 robotic pets to those who are at the most risk for social isolation.

(Image credit: Ageless Innovation)

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