The strain of having to take care of a family member or loved one and being a caregiver can be amazingly stressful and there seems as if there is not enough time in the day to get things done. Many people who are taking care of their elderly family members or loved ones as caregivers are also taking care of families of their own which makes it even more difficult. Many of the elderly find themselves extremely lonely and hate to be a burden on the family.
With the senior population exploding it is causing a need for more people who can be a care giver but it is extremely hard to keep in pace with the need. Many companies are trying to be creative with finding out ways that they can help caregivers. From sensors to video monitoring many inventors are trying to find ways to help this growing caregiver epidemic.
This article below makes me revisit robot caregiving. Can it be a successful way to help out the with the caregiver shortage? I am still very hesitant to agree that this will be an answer to the care giver shortage. Although it may not be actual answer to caregiving it absolutely can help with the need to monitor certain aspects of home care assistance.
Touching Caregiver Article
EACH time I make a house call, I stay much longer than I should. I can’t leave because my patient is holding my hand, or because she’s telling me, not for the first time, about when Aunt Mabel cut off all her hair and they called her a boy at school, or how her daddy lost his job and the lights went out and her mother lit pine cones and danced and made everyone laugh. Sometimes I can’t leave because she just has to show me one thing, but getting to that thing requires that she rise unsteadily from her chair, negotiate her walker through the narrow hallway, and find whatever it is in the dim light of her bedroom.
I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems, but I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability which can easily be helped by caregiving. She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line.
It’s not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn’t want to be “locked up in one of those homes.” What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile as a caregiver.
What she needs is a robot caregiver.
That may sound like an oxymoron. In an ideal world, it would be: Each of us would have at least one kind and fully capable human caregiver to meet our physical and emotional needs as we age. But most of us do not live in an ideal world, and a reliable robot caregiver may be better than an unreliable or abusive person, or than no one at all as a caregiver.
Caregiving is hard work. More often than not, it is tedious, awkwardly intimate and physically and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes it is dangerous or disgusting. Almost always it is 24/7 and unpaid or low wage, and has profound adverse health consequences for those who do it. It is women’s work and immigrants’ work, and it is work that many people either can’t or simply won’t do.
Many countries have acknowledged this reality by investing in robot development for caregivers. Last year in Japan, where robots are considered “iyashi,” or healing, the health ministry began a program designed to meet work-force shortages and help prevent injuries by promoting nursing-care robots that assist with lifting and moving patients. A consortium of European companies, universities and research institutions collaborated on Mobiserv, a project that developed a touch-screen-toting, humanoid-looking “social companion” robot that offers reminders about appointments and medications and encourages social activity, healthy eating and exercise. In Sweden, researchers have developed GiraffPlus, a robot that looks like a standing mirror cum vacuum cleaner, monitors health metrics like blood pressure and has a screen for virtual doctor and family visits.
Researchers in the United States are developing robot-caregiver prototypes as well, but we have been slower to move in this direction. Already, we have robots to assist in surgery and very basic “walking” robots that deliver medications and other supplies in hospitals. Robots are increasingly used in rehabilitation after debilitating events like strokes. But a robot that cleans out your arteries or carries linens isn’t the same as a robot meant to be your friend and caregiver. Even within the medical community, this idea that machines could help fulfill more than just physical needs meets largely with skepticism, and occasionally with outrage.
As Jerald Winakur, a San Antonio internist and geriatrician, put it, “Just because we digitally savvy parents toss an iPad at our kids to keep them busy and out of our hair, is this the example we want to set when we, ourselves, need care and kindness?”
And yet, search YouTube and you can watch developmentally delayed children doing therapy with a cute blue-and-yellow CosmoBot that also collects information about their performance. Or you can see older Japanese people with dementia smiling and chatting happily with a robot named Paro that looks like a baby seal and responds to human speech. Sherry Turkle, an M.I.T. professor and technology skeptic, questions such artificial emotional relationships in her book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.” Yet after watching a 72-year-old woman named Miriam interact with Paro, she noted that the woman “found comfort when she confided in her Paro. Paro took care of Miriam’s desire to tell her a story.”
One proof of the social and emotional potential of robot caregivers is probably right in front of you. If you have walked down any street recently, or sat in a restaurant, or entered a workplace, you’ve probably seen numerous people oblivious to the humans with or around them, while fully engaged with the machines in their hands or on their desks. Admittedly, such people are often interacting with other humans via their machines, but the fact remains that the primary interaction is between person and machine, and despite compelling protests that such interactions do not constitute meaningful, empathic relationships, they seem to provide stimulation and satisfaction to millions, if not billions, of us. Maybe you are one of those people, reading this article on a device……
Click on the link below to read the entire article about robot caregivers