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In Isolating Times, Can Robo-Pets Provide Comfort?


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A nursing home resident with a robopet.

A study of 271 independently living seniors who suffered from loneliness found there was improvement in their mental well-being, in sense of purpose and optimism, after 30 days with a robotic pet cat or dog.

Credit: Ageless Innovation

When Linda Spangler asked her mother, in a video chat, what she would like as gift for her 92nd birthday, the response came promptly.

"I'd like a dog," Charlene Spangler said. "Is Wolfgang dead?" Wolfgang, a family dachshund, had indeed died long ago; so had all his successors. Ms. Spangler, who lives in a dementia care facility in Oakland, Calif., has trouble recalling such history.

Her daughter, a doctor, considered the request. Before visitors were barred from the residence because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Spangler had seen her mother every other day, often taking her to Lake Merritt in her wheelchair to see the ducks and to pat passing dogs.

 

From The New York Times
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