In Japan, the population of the elderly continues to increase, so finding solutions to improve the quality of life of the aged is a priority. As a nation who loves gadgets, it’s no wonder that in some situations they now use robots to care for the elderly.
In Western society, this would sound extremely inhumane. One may imagine some metal object prodding someone, right? This isn’t the case at all. But, first you have to understand that the Japanese have this unique relationship with robots. Remember the Tamagotchi?
By Tomasz Sienicki [user: tsca, mail: tomasz.sienicki at gmail.com] – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2169298
This was a digital key chain in the shape of an egg, which was a digital pet. Taking care of this pet required pushing buttons in a timely manner. Without “care” the “pet” would die. They sold 76 million of these things! I must admit my kids had them too…
By Sven Volkens – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48391782
Then there was the Sony robotic dog called Aibo, which I’d translate as “pal”. Many people found them more convenient than real dogs because they don’t need to be fed and they don’t pee. It’s discontinued now, but apparently some were so attached to their Aibo, they had funerals when they broke.
With this unique affection toward robots, the Japanese have found them to be helpful in caring for their aging society. Robots and care don’t seem to resonate, but watch this clip, “The soft side of robots elderly care.” It may open your mind to something new. For those of us with aging parents with dementia, it may be something worth looking into.