Would you allow a robot to care for your mom or chronically ill child?

May 10, 2011
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Many adults are facing difficult decisions about whether or not to put their aging parents in a nursing home. Sometimes people quit good jobs to keep their parent home with them and to become the primary caregiver. A company called GeckoSystems says the answer is robots.

The Carebot is a four-foot, 100-pound robot with a screen for a face and wheels for legs. It’s not particularly a robot to wow people, but it is capable of reminding a person to take medication, calling 911 and emergency contacts, and is fitted with a webcam to allow remote monitoring and chats with elderly relatives. With a cost of about $12,000 – $15,000 that might initially make a person gasp, the company behind Carebot says that the price is low when compared to the “hidden costs” to a family budget for providing care. GeckoSystems added that it costs families about $45,000 – $60,000 on average per year to keep a parent in a retirement home.

These personal robots can monitor vital signs or help a family monitor their loved one from afar. Some people use the Carebot’s webcam to allow family members to drop in for a “virtual visit” and “video conferencing.” It acts as a “companion” which can be programmed to tell “jokes, retells family anecdotes, reminds them to take medication, reminds them that family is coming over soon (or not at all), recites Bible verses, plays favorite songs and/or other music. It alerts them when unexpected visitors, or intruders are present. It notifies designated caregivers when a potentially harmful event has occurred, such as a fall, fire in the home, or simply been not found by the CareBot for too long.”

Most primary caregivers are taking care of their loved one 24/7 and the stress can add up, leaving the caregiver uncomfortable to leave an elderly parent at home when there are shopping needs that take more than two hours. If an outsider is brought in to watch over an elderly parent or a child with a disability, the cost tends to range for $75 to $125 per eight hour day.

According to the company, a Carebot lifts the load, stress and long-term cost of caring for a special loved one.

It seems like it would be freaky to have that robot staring at you all day, but, in theory, robots will be the future caregivers.

Video with Kinect:

Image Credit: GeckoSystems

Author: Tessa