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Friday, September 01, 2017

How Robots Could Help Bridge The Elder-Care Gap | Honolulu Civil Beat

Photo: Cynthia Matuszek
Cynthia Matuszek, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County summarizes,  "Artificial intelligence could not only care for elders but also increase their independence and reduce their social isolation."

Robots like this one at the Interactive Robotics and Language Lab at the University of Maryland Baltimore County can hand medicine to patients.
Photo: University of Maryland Baltimore County
Despite innovations that make it easier for seniors to keep living on their own rather than moving into special facilities, most elderly people eventually need a hand with chores and other everyday activities.

Friends and relatives often can’t do all the work. Growing evidence indicates it’s neither sustainable nor healthy for seniors or their loved ones. Yet demand for professional caregivers already far outstrips supply, and experts say this workforce shortage will only get worse.
So how will our society bridge this elder-care gap? In a word, robots.

Just as automation has begun to do jobs previously seen as uniquely suited for humans, like retrieving goods from warehouses, robots will assist your elderly relatives. As a robotics researcher, I believe artificial intelligence has the potential not only to care for our elders but to do so in a way that increases their independence and reduces their social isolation.

Personal Robots 
In the 2004 movie “I, Robot,” the robot-hating protagonist Del Spooner (played by Will Smith) is shocked to discover a robot in his grandmother’s house, baking a pie. You may have similar mental images: When many people imagine robots in the home, they envision mechanized domestic workers doing tasks in human-like ways.

In reality, many of the robots that will provide support for older adults who “age in place” – staying at home when they might otherwise be forced to relocate to assisted living or nursing homes – won’t look like people...

Round-The-Clock Care 
The most obvious one is their capacity to work around the clock. Machines, unlike people, are available 24/7. When used in the home, they can support aging in place.

TEDxGeorgiaTech - Jenay Beer - Meet Your Grandparents' Assistant: The Domesticated Robot by Jenay Beer, researcher at the University of South Carolina.

Another plus: Relying on technology to meet day-to-day needs like mopping the floor can improve the quality of time elders spend with family and friends. Delegating mundane chores to robots also leaves more time for seniors to socialize with the people who care about them, and not just for them...

Source: Honolulu Civil Beat and TEDx Talks Channel (YouTube)

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