Caring, Loving, Compassionate, Considerate, Supportive, and the list goes on. These are just some of the adjectives that are commonly used to describe a caregiver. But in the near future there could be a robot that is used to provide care for our aging family and friends. Why? Because due to the rising age of the baby boomers there is concern that there may not be enough caregivers to provide care. How can you teach a robot to have feelings? I am not sure you can.
According to a recent study conducted by an article on CNN.com, by the year 2050 the elderly will account for 16 percent of the global population. In other words that is 1.5 billion people over the age of 65 (Population Reference Bureau). This is where caring for seniors whether it be physically, emotionally, and/or mentally will become an enormous task. Adding to the difficulty is also finding the properly trained, educated, and willing individuals for the job.
Many times seniors may just need conversation and companionship. A robot may be able to provide some dialog, but it’s not likely that a piece of metal will provide much by way of companionship. Then there is the ability to act as a reminder system for those who are suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s likely a robot could do that with ease. But, will it be able to create and foster that sense of love and compassion that is uniquely humane? For many families this may be the greatest question.
There are many positive benefits to the robot caregiver and many disadvantages as well. One thing that is for certain is that we must continue to provide the most compassionate and loving care for our seniors and those with disabilities that we can.