Robot teddy bears for elders
The hope is to use them for “robot therapy” in geriatric medicine for patients that suffer from dementia, says Fujitsu.
In SRV workshops, we teach about the devalued role of child for elders (‘second childhood’). Teddy bears are typically associated with quite young children. The robot teddy can place vulnerable elders into the role of child again, in the minds of their staff, family and any visitors for example.
In SRV workshops, we also teach about the practice of ‘animal or pet therapy,’ bringing a pet dog or bunny to a nursing home for the nursing home residents to spend time with, ostensibly to calm them or ‘make them happy.’ One of the SRV-based concerns about this common practice is the association of societally devalued people with animals in a way that is likely to cast vulnerable people into the animal role. Another fundamental problem with such ‘pet therapy’ practices is that it all too often displaces human presence, companionship and relationship. (Consider what the common unconscious assumptions behind such a practice might be; e.g., devalued people do not need, want or deserve human relationship.) Perhaps this robot teddy is a high-tech version of that practice.
Consider also the robot teddy both in terms of image and competency:
• What images are communicated about elders with dementia, particularly in light of the common negative stereotypes surrounding dementia?
• What does having a robot teddy bear which is built to respond to external stimuli (such as noise or a hand waving) do for someone who is confused perhaps about their surroundings, has trouble processing or remembering information, or is sometimes confused about who and what is real?Tweet
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: child role, dementia, elders