McKnight’s Senior Living reports on a new pilot planned for two Ohio Life Plan Communities: socially assistive robots will be used to curb resident loneliness and apathy. Researchers from Vanderbilt University and Ohio State University’s College of Nursing received a $3 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to test whether robots can lessen loneliness by helping residents engage with one another. This is a different twist to typical robot research, since it is not necessarily the robot that is alleviating the loneliness; rather, the robot is facilitating an opportunity for residents to engage with one another and thus curb their own loneliness.
Research is being performed at two Life Plan Communities in an attempt to see if social interaction can be facilitated among older adults with robots. There is a special emphasis on those living with dementia. The robots are designed for social interactions, where they detect and meaningfully respond to people’s conversations. They are also designed to effectively respond to individuals with cognitive impairments. These robots are intended to work with two people at a time, collaborating with them to involve one another in an activity or conversation where they may have meaningful interactions with each other.
The study remains to be completed, but researchers believe these socially assistive robots will reduce apathy among older adults with cognitive impairments and create a sustainable way for meaningful interaction to take place among older adults.
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Bonvissuto K. CCRCs to participate in $3 million test of robots to curb resident loneliness, apathy. McKnight’s Senior Living. https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/news/ccrcs-to-participate-in-3-million-test-of-robots-to-curb-resident-loneliness-apathy/. Accessed September 8, 2020.