Robots Take on the Eldercare Crisis

Intuition Robotics

Wellness robots may be the future of aged care and more.

For context:  The US is ill-prepared to care for its rapidly aging population.

  • The US will face a shortage of 151K elder caregivers by 2030 and 355K by 2040.
  • Social isolation and loneliness significantly increase all-cause mortality for those 50+.
  • 88% of adults 65+ prefer to “age in place” at home vs. a care facility.
  • Non-medical preventative interventions for physical, cognitive, and psychosocial health increase seniors’ quality of life by 80%.

The latest: ElliQ, makers of an interactive robot supporting aged care, released its next generation of hardware along with a new app for family members and caregivers.

What it is: Proactive and conversational, the device features a smart tablet, camera, and moving/talking “sidekick,” complete with activities for cognitive performance and physical activity, plus health tracking, pain assessments, and more.

Its caregiver app enables video calls, texts, setting of reminders, and updates on changes in well-being of the ElliQ user.

Why it matters: In 2017, 60% of Americans rejected the idea of a care robot for their family members, while 60% of Europeans supported a full ban on robotic/AI care for children and elders.

But, with few other options and emerging research, the sentiment may be changing.

In its first six months on the market, ElliQ proved the robot reduced loneliness for 80% of users and helped 82% stay mentally active. Following the proof, the state of New York ordered ElliQ technology for the homes of 800+ older adults.

Elsewhere, PARO, an automated baby seal, is being used to reduce loneliness and blood pressure in older adults, while “robot nurse” RIBA can pick up humans of up to 134lbs.

Looking ahead: From trainers and therapists, robots have infiltrated wellness, too.

  • Children were more likely to open up to Nao, a toy-like robot that senses touch, heartbeat, and eye movement, than in traditional therapy.
  • Somnox created a robotic sleep companion clinically proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness.
  • Aescape just raised $30M to scale its automated massage experience for athletes and sports teams.

Punchline: Faced with a growing number of health crises, from senior care to mental wellness,  we’ll be forced to weigh the pros and cons of convenient and scalable wellness bots.

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