Robot pets can provide companionship to older adults

Wendy Nelson, the center manager of Joe's Club in Micco, shows off a robot cat.

Can a robot pet bring comfort and joy to an older adult?

"Yes, absolutely," said Wendy Nelson, the center manager of Joe’s Club Adult Day Care in Micco. "It’s very calming, especially when they get a little anxious," she added, describing the effects of two robot cats on clients at her Center.  

Joe’s Club Adult Day Care Center is run by the Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation. Clients, affectionately referred to as loved ones, are encouraged to participate in small group activities, but they can cuddle with the cats as they wish. The cats are used almost exclusively by two loved ones.

The robot cat is more than just a stuffed animal. People unfamiliar with the product often mistake it for a live animal when they first encounter it. 

"It’s so lifelike that they try to feed it" Nelson said. "They like that the cat responds to their touching and hugging like real cats." 

Nelson said that the cat provides a positive interactive experience. 

"It’s soothing, especially if they had cats at home. And, if they grew up with cats, then they often remember taking care of cats. And, they go back to that without having to groom them or clean a litter box." 

Adrianne Cordero, the care manager at Greystone Health Care in Viera, agrees with Nelson’s assessment as to the usefulness of robot pets. 

"For elderly patients who are going through care with a lot of anxiety, it gives them calm and peace; and the same applies to children as well. It’s a playmate you can love."

Greystone Healthcare provides short-term and long-term care to meet the social and wellness needs of their clients. In addition to its state-of-the-art equipment, Greystone Healthcare sometimes incorporates robot pets with therapeutics. At Greystone, they have robot cats, dogs and unicorns.

"The more you play with them, the more you really know what they can do. It’s something to help with occupational therapy, eye-hand coordination. They are good old-fashioned fun," Cordero said. 

Ageless Innovation, the creator of Joy for All brand of robot pets, hopes the robot pets will positively impact quality of life for aging loved ones and their family caregivers.