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Could robots become a common part of assisted living?

May 2, 2013

Technology has changed nearly every aspect of senior living. Whether it is smartphones helping with things like medication management or adaptive devices making it simpler for adults with arthritis to perform activities of daily living, the latest gadgets have certainly revolutionized retirement. New research suggests that seniors aren't the only ones willing to turn to these advancements - healthcare providers everywhere from hospitals to assisted living facilities would approve the use of robots.

The findings were revealed in a survey conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and indicate that more than half of healthcare providers would prefer a robotic assistant to a human one. However, the results do come with a caveat: there are certain tasks that doctors and other healthcare professionals like to perform on their own. Robotic assistance with tasks such as housework and medication reminders were considered acceptable, but caregivers would prefer that such technology be left out of activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing patients.

"Robots aren't being designed to eliminate people. Instead, they can help reduce physical demands and workloads," said study leader Tracy Mitzner. "Hopefully, our study helps create guidelines for developers and facilitates deployment into the healthcare industry.

While it remains to be seen what impact these findings will have, it does pose an interesting quandary for the assisted living industry, especially as a growing number of people may require care over the course of their retirement. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 70 percent of people 65 and older will require some type of long-term care at one point or another.