robot carers can give people a sense of control

These days, it seems like we can innovate a technological solution to almost any need. From speeding up production to eliminating household chores, robots are becoming more and more commonplace. As technology advances, we have all by now heard the enthusiasm or the alarm from those who insist that our reality will only continue to become saturated with these devices. This is our future, but is its arrival really welcomed by all?

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden took upon the question regarding the push to supplement (or replace) human caregivers with automated caregivers. They hosted a workshop inviting people over 65 to discuss their desires and concerns about robotic assistance around their homes. They asked questions like, “What should a robot do or not do?” and asked whether the participants had positive or negative feelings toward adopting new technology.

Overwhelmingly, the crowd felt excited about the possibility of having robots to help around the home. They looked forward to having machines to remind them of upcoming appointments and when to take medicine, to keep track of easily misplaced items like glasses and phones, and to reach items up on high shelves and down on the floor. One person explained, “I would like the robot to be able to reach high up in my kitchen cupboards because I can’t do that anymore. I need to use a stool, which makes me feel unstable. Once I fell and sprained my foot.”

The possibility of having more control and not having to work around another person’s schedule was also appealing. In fact, being able to turn the robot on and off at will was one of the most equally desired features.

Some of the participants did feel some apprehension about having a robot companion. They liked the idea of being able to communicate with an intelligent machine, but feared that it would replace interactions with human beings. Specifically, some worried that their family members would stop visiting when they assumed the robot would be company enough.

These participants only represent a small sample of the population that could utilize care giving robots, but their opinions shed light on some of the important issues that all people face as we age. Having robots to help around with difficult tasks can be a major relief, but communication and care from other people is still essential. If you were to receive a robot helper, what kind of tasks would you like it to perform in your home?

Read the full study report here to learn more about the seniors’ thoughts on robot carers.

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