In order to keep their residents safe, nursing homes and assisted living facilities closed their doors to outside visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. While staff does their best to keep seniors entertained, feelings of loneliness continue to be an issue as the months drag on.
Companion animals have long been a saving grace for lonely seniors, but it’s not always easy to care for another living being. That’s where Joy For All Companion Animals come in.
Joy For All Companion Animals is a line of robotic stuffed pets that look, feel, and act just like the real deal, minus all the care and feeding. The Alabama Department of Senior Services is the latest organization to start a pilot program aimed at offering these pets to seniors as a simple yet effective solution to loneliness and isolation.
Alabama’s program is modeled off of a similar program in New York, which was the first state in the U.S. to test out robotic companion animals in senior centers. New York’s program targeted people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and the results were incredibly positive. More than 70% of participants reported a decrease in loneliness a year after receiving their robotic pet!
Many facilities already have successful service animal programs in place. However, taking care of real pets is not always feasible for either elderly people living alone or in nursing care facilities. Real pets require feeding, walks, and grooming that seniors simply can’t handle, but with a robotic pet they receive all of the companionship and love without any of the fuss.
For those suffering from cognitive impairment, these pets are as real as they get. “My mother loves her #JoyForAllPets kitty,” one client wrote on Facebook. “She’s in a nursing home and isn’t lonely anymore!! It’s changed her whole disposition and given us peace of mind.”
Alabama’s program has had successful results as well, and other states are following suit with programs of their own. Florida and Pennsylvania have now partnered with Ageless Innovation to bring Joy For All pets to their senior centers too.
Joy For All Companion Pets sell for about $100 each and come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. They make realistic sounds, wag their tails, and are soft and fluffy to the touch. Experts are unsure whether seniors with dementia know that they aren’t real animals, but frankly it doesn’t even matter! The end result is the same: seniors are calmer, happier, and more at ease when their robotic pet is in their arms.
Doctors say this program is also a way to provide comfort without resorting to medication. Seems like they’ve found a wonderful way to keep seniors mentally stimulated and happy!
Watch the video below to see seniors responding to their robotic pets, and don’t forget to share.
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