Not too long ago we discussed the current (and upcoming) RoboCare for seniors. Several articles (as well as institutions) have purported just how important it is that we find a solution to the elder care situation.
Baby Boomers are retiring in the next decade. We have a shortage of caregivers and – perhaps most challenging – we have a shortage of people interested in pursuing this field. Many senior housing communities are full and some have yearlong waiting lists.
This is hard for everyone. Seniors are going to need care, but can’t transition because of the lack of housing; even then, once they become residents, there may not be enough caregivers.
When we stop and think about it, it feels like the world is spinning. So obviously, many people have been turning to alternatives.
Earlier this week we mentioned the sudden trend of families that are sending their seniors overseas to make sure they receive quality (and affordable) senior care options. Even earlier than that however, we mentioned how people are hoping to create robots that can assist elders with the activities of daily living (ADLs). Of course, that is still in happening and the research centers are hoping to provide these robots as viable senior care options soon.
However, the part that’s equally as important to address is:
Can RoboCare Ever Replace Senior Care Options?
Currently, RoboCare involves adult children being able to telecommute with their elders and having mechanical limbs assist with cooking, shaving, etc. However, robot butlers aren’t far off.
The question becomes, can robot butlers replace senior care? Ultimately, while RoboCare may become more common in the future, it can’t replace the human element.
When Aristotle first said, “man is a social animal,” he wasn’t simply blowing smoke. Humans are social by nature and that means that they need to regularly communicate and interact. Even the most advanced robot AIs can’t do that – just try having a conversation with Siri!
Robots lack the ability to communicate and it’d only be worse with machines that were wholly subservient because even animals – although they may not be able to “speak” – react to us. There’s a connection with humans and animals, whereas robots can only demonstrate intelligence and personality as far as they’re programmed to do.
In addition to this, one of the benefits of Adult Family Homes – currently the most popular of the senior care options in Washington – is the one-on-one personalized care. Unlike Assisted Living or Nursing Homes, Adult Family Homes limit their residents to six people. This promotes personalized care because there are less seniors to take care of per staff. Meanwhile, in Assisted Living Homes, you have some staff members that handle 1500 pills a day because they take care of so many residents.
The personal touch is imperative and it’s usually what seniors (and their families) look for in housing because you don’t want to have your elder being taken care of by someone who doesn’t treat your loved one like a human.
If robots replaced the senior care options, no doubt we would see a rise in depression in our elders. They would feel like they’re common and can be driven into mass-manufactured routine. That kind of monotony would drive anyone mad!
So, while these tools are useful ADDITIONS to the senior care options, they cannot replace people working with people.