Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Monday, November 27, 2006

How about a Robot-Sitter?

Here’s an alternative to caring for Mom or Dad yourself. According to the Korea Times, hundreds of the scientists in the Asian county are developing robots that will be equipped with voice recognition software and capable of performing routine eldercare.

Well, it’s efficient all right. But think about it. “Mom, I really don’t have time for you. Here’s an R2D2. He’ll make sure you take your meds, take your vitals, and sing you a lullaby. Call if you need me.” I wonder if they can engineer a personality? I wonder if they can convince an elderly person that they’re loved? Would a robot be more personal than Life Alert?

On the other hand, I constantly worry about my mom falling at home, yet, she won’t even consider assisted living or a companion. If the robot could really recognize a fall or health problem and contact emergency services, it might provide an alternative for still-independent seniors.

My mother-in-law passed away in her home. She was active, driving, traveling the world. She loved her independence and we certainly didn’t want to rob her of it. We never knew where she was, even though we begged her to let us know when she knew she’d be gone for a few days. We’d try to check in every day or so without hovering. After two or three days of not hearing, we’d call around and eventually find her visiting a friend. One day when we made the calls, none of her friends had heard from her either. They were beginning to wonder as well. We drove up to her home and found her in her bed. Probably a heart attack. Could a robot have given her safety and independence?

These are strange days we live in. Days where technology is making science fiction real. So, what do you think? Do you want a robot caring for your mom?

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3 comment(s):

I enjoyed your post. Turns out my mom, who is 86 and lives alone, has Life Alert -- it makes me feel more at ease knowing she has their 24 hour protection. Regarding robots caring for the elderly at home, I have no doubt it will happen eventually; how far in the future is the real question. If it was developed properly, thoroughly tested and proven, and had a robust fluent natural language capability, perhaps I could accept the idea of it being in the home. As for my mom, I'm not so sure. She'll have to master her answering machine first.

By Anonymous Doctor D, at 5:15 PM  

doctor d~

Thanks for commenting. Has your mom ever had to use the Life Alert? Wondering how it works in reality.

Pat

By Blogger Pat, at 11:20 PM  

Robots instead of caregivers. Interesting idea.

In terms of the medical alert buttons, there are a few companies providing this. We bought the one from Lifestation and my friends got Lifefone.

By Anonymous Susan, at 8:45 AM  

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