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Robotic Pets Assist with Anxiety and Depression in Elderly Patients with Dementia

Ah, the age of technology. A breath of fresh air when nearly all symptoms and signs are treated with some form of technology. Anxiety and depression, which are common symptoms in patients with dementia, are sometimes devastating both to the patient, caregiver, and loved ones.

In a study conducted on the use of robotic pets in dementia care the authors found that the use of the PARO robotic seal for 20 minutes three times a week significantly reduced the need for medications. However, for those that are reading this please do not try any of this without a professional consult from your primary or specialty care physician.

What is more interesting is that the study published was in 2016. In current day there are robotic cats and dogs being utilized in care. For example Dr. Caitlin Holly, psychologist, utilizes the pets to help reduce some symptoms. She stated that " The idea is that it's a non-pharmacological intervention that can help with anxiety, it can help with agitation, restlessness."

There is much more research that must be conducted to verify without uncertainty that the utilization of artificial intelligent robotic pets will not harm patients with dementia. However, with Dr. Holly's utilization at the Veteran Affairs in Albany, New York, there is great promise in these early findings. Check out this video on YouTube from Fox 4 in New York.

Now these cost $99.99 on Joyforall from their website (We do not make any money for any sales related to this blog.) According to the website "The JOY FOR ALL Companion Pet cats look, feel and sound like real cats. But they're so much more than soft fur, soothing purrs and pleasant meows. These cats respond to petting, hugging and motion much like the real ones you know and love but don't require any special care or feeding," stated by the description of the JOY FOR ALL Companion Pet Cat. According to the website the animals have build-in sensors which respond to the motion and touch, they have realistic fur, and perform cat-like movements.

These are not going to be ideal for every patient with dementia. But for those patients who were affixed to an animal that passed away, this should assist. As stated before please consult the patients primary care or specialty care physician before altering medication of patient. Just because signs and symptoms of agitation, anxiety, and depression may subside does not mean that the will not come back. Removing a patients medication alters the chemical state in their brain and can cause more harm than good.

Reference to the Research Study

Petersen, Sandra & Houston, Susan & Qin, Huanying & Tague, Corey & Studley, Jill. (2016). The Utilization of Robotic Pets in Dementia Care. Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD. 55. 10.3233/JAD-16070

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