It’s a common sight to see real, live therapy animals visiting places like hospitals and nursing homes to bring comfort to patients and residents who find themselves in these places, away from the comforts of home, including their companion animals. But did you know that there is a growing trend to bring comfort to elderly dementia patients with the use of robotic stuffed animals, especially cats? The toy company Hasbro has created a line of companion pet cats, called Joy for All, designed to comfort the elderly.
According to Hasbro’s website, these cats have realistic fur, and can also meow and purr like real cats. They have sensors that respond to touching, hugging, and petting with typical feline sounds and head/body movements. They will even close their eyes and take a nap when they don’t get pets for a while. You can see a video of these cats in action by clicking on the above link.
The New York Times, which recently reported on this trend, notes that the name for this type of mechanical pet is known as “socially assistive robots.” They have been used successfully with the elderly for a while now. The author of the article reports that he visited his grandmother in a memory care facility and watched her interact with her companion cat called Kitty. Petting the cat brought on a remarkable change in her, and he watched in amazement as she became animated, happy, and expressive.
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Of course, nothing beats the experience of cuddling a living, breathing cat, but these companion kitties could be just what the doctor ordered for many seniors!
- AH Printing