Robotic pets create companionship for dementia patients

Robotic pets create companionship for dementia patients
With visitors not allowed inside due to COVID, Crowne Health Care in Greenville got creative and tried something different. So far these robotic pets are a big hit for patients with dementia. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

GREENVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - When COVID-19 hit, many places like Crowne Healthcare in Greenville had to make quick changes for the safety of the patients and staff.

“Residents weren’t allowed to have visitors and had to stay in their rooms,” said Sandra Medley with Crowne Healthcare of Greenville. “There was no interaction. They couldn’t go see other people.”

With little to no interaction, they got creative.

“We had 12 animals donated, and three more coming,” Medley said.

But not real animals. These are Joy for All robotic companion pets.

“The dog, it will turn to you when you rub him and it’ll bark at you. The more you interact, the more it interacts with you,” Medley said.

They’re designed for patients with dementia. They got their first dog this year thanks to a donation from the Central Alabama Aging Consortium. They cost anywhere from $100 to $130 each, but folks here say they are worth every penny.

“They help with behaviors. If we have a resident that may be wandering, to give them a puppy or a kitty cat, and we ask them to take care of it, it provides a distraction,” Medley said.

For the patients who get one of the cuddly companions, it can truly be life changing.

“It’s just amazing to see a resident with them and interact with them because, there’s no vet bills and you don’t have to feed them. They are just there for companionship,” Medley said.

Medley says they make a huge difference for the patients here and hopes other facilities will give them a try too.

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