Thanks to Marti Weston for posting “Do Cuddly Robots Help People with Dementia?” on the Blogstream May 18th. I posted a reply, but for those who haven’t seen her excellent site, www.asourparentsage.net, here’s what I wrote:
Count me among the people who think that a robot is NOT an acceptable substitute for human interaction.
Here’s why the robots help: they give auditory and tactile stimulation, but they also stick around for the benefit of the person, and don’t rush off to other “tasks”! The sad truth is that people could do that too, and much better, if our care systems and attitudes enabled us to do so.
Further, most people view dementia from the lens of a broken model of care, and as a result, their ability to interact effectively and enable people with dementia is limited. By learning new approaches, better facilitative skills and the flexibility to adapt to the needs of the moment, humans can elicit a much better “awakening” than any robot possibly could.