Isolation and loneliness are two of the less-talked-about health concerns affecting millions of people right now.
With nursing home visits still restricted in many states, these two problems are particularly concerning for our older adults.
Studies show that loneliness can impact our immune function, increase inflammation, and negatively affect our mood.
So how can we mitigate the loneliness of millions of people, without putting them at risk?
By giving them robotic pets, of course.
It may not sound like the purrfect plan but bear with us here.
Senior service agencies in several states including NY, FL, PE, and AL have partnered with robotic pet manufacturer Ageless Innovation to give this idea a go.
The robotics company developed a line of mechanical companions that are designed to look, feel, and sound just like real pets.
“We have technology inside that product that allows you to respond to touch and sound and light in different ways. And what we found is older adults wanted realism,” Ageless Innovation’s CEO Ted Fischer told CNN.
“That’s part of the magic of a companion pet.”
Now, we’ve known for a while that pets can affectively combat loneliness.
This 2013 analysis revealed that pet owners were 36% less likely than non-pet owners to report loneliness.
However, real-live pets come with real-life problems.
Adopting and owning a pet can cost thousands of dollars a year; and that’s if they are healthy.
Plus you have to consider things like allergies, building restrictions, proper training; the list goes on.
The robotic pets, known as ‘Joy for All Companion Pets’ cost around $100 (and you’ll never have to scoop any poop).
The best part is that robotic pets appear to be highly effective at combating loneliness.
According to a press release from Ageless Innovations, 70% of participants in the pilot program reported a decrease or significant decrease in isolation.
‘Joy for All Companion Pets’ allow socially isolated older adults to receive similar gratification and comfort that they would from live pets.
Reduced anxiety, decreased loneliness, and a better quality of life — without needing to worry about food or vet bills.
And that is good news.