Anyone over the age of 40 can likely recall a time when it was laughable to consider the promise of instant mail delivery, easy online shopping and the ability to reconnect with every person who crossed our paths and whose name we could remember would be as simple as clicking a “Friend Request” button. Yet, here we are. We’re posting birthday wishes to our next door neighbor who moved away when we were ten and sure enough, we can order nearly anything under the sun with a credit card and a willingness to wait for UPS to deliver our goods. It shouldn’t be so far-fetched to believe that robots can care for seniors in a meaningful way. Or is it?
Robots Care for Seniors – No, Really
The number of elderly Americans who would benefit from additional help is staggering. Even with family members who check on Mom or Dad, the reality is few of those family members can afford to quit their jobs and provide around the clock care. Most also have their own children they’re raising and all of the other daily goings-on that require attention.
Nursing homes are an option for some, but then there are the cost considerations, especially since the guidelines associated with Medicaid and Medicare aren’t always clear. The spend-down and five year look back period has its own challenges, as well. Besides, most of us want to remain in our homes.
Enter the robots.
Some supporters say these technological wonders would be better than abusive caregivers and they could potentially prove to be more reliable than their human counterparts. But what exactly is it that a robot could provide?
Many look no further than our hospitals. Already, robots help in surgeries, recovery, rehabilitation and a host of other services. Supporters say they could help with lifting patients, providing assistance for walking, they can be programmed to remind seniors to take their medicine, run vacuum cleaners and serve as blood pressure monitors. They can also remind seniors of upcoming doctors’ appointments, trips to town and they can keep grocery lists. Many countries – including the U.S. – have already begun investing in various robot technologies. With touch screens and even “humanoid features”, these developments could even provide telemedicine. With a monitor, seniors can meet with their doctors, their adult kids can video chat with them during the day and the robot could even get the pharmacist on a video teleconference call between the patient, her human caregiver and her doctor.
As one might expect, the costs are not even remotely affordable and it’s not likely programs such as Medicaid and Medicare would be eager to add them to approved expenditures, at least not right away. Still, given the sheer number of development programs, you can be sure these gems will soon be made available for those who can afford them in an “out of pocket” manner.
So can a robot care for seniors? Of course, a robot can’t replicate human emotions, but it’s possible that a combination of a committed family and the advances being made in these caregiving robots, it could prove to be a great solution. It really does come down to balance, though.
If you’re not convinced these are realistic options, you’re not alone. Then again, who would have ever dreamed we’d be living our lives though devices like our iPhones?
While we can’t predict the future, our team of elder law attorneys (who aren’t robots, by the way) can help protect your elderly loved ones with sound estate planning guidance. Give us a call today to learn more.