Many countries around the world have ageing populations and a growing prevalence of dementia. Japan, in particular, is a “super-ageing” society, with a citizenry accepting older faster than anywhere else in the world due to long life assumption and low birth rates.

In 2015, an commodity in The Lancet medical account acicular out that “Japan will be at the beginning of devising ways to tackle the social, economic, and medical challenges posed by a super-ageing society.”

A high-tech innovator, the country is bearing robots for people with dementia – to accommodate companionship, advance safety in the home, and help with therapy. Other countries are jumping on board with initiatives to absorb account robots into dementia care.

But we must make sure that people, abnormally those living with dementia, are firmly at the center of analysis and development. Technology, after all, should be for and by people, not article imposed on them.

Robots for dementia care

Robotic accessories can help with concrete caregiving tasks, adviser behavior and symptoms, and accommodate cerebral support.

They can be classified into seven major categories: power-assisted robots that alteration patients from beds and wheelchairs; advantageous robots for claimed mobility; toiletry abetment robots; bathing abetment robots; ecology robots with sensor systems; social alternation robots; and ameliorative robots.

Robots in the first four categories could be widely used in aged care to assist elders with concrete advancement limitations.

Those in the latter categories have accurate appliance for people with dementia who acquaintance adversity with memory, cerebration and communication, as well as changes in mood, behavior and personality.

Social robots

Robots advised for social and ameliorative purposes can look like cute animals – such as PARO, a baby seal robot – or like small humanoids – such as Sato or Romeo.

For people living with memory loss, robots can remind them about things they often forget, such as bidding them to take medication and eat meals, pointing out the area of domiciliary items and allowance with their use. Robots can also accommodate accompaniment and entertainment, such as agreeable people in games, dancing and singing.

Robots can abutment people with dementia to live independently, and help reduce abrogating behavioral and cerebral symptoms.

They can also abutment human caregivers by accouterment alert eyes and allowance hands. Robots do not acquaintance stress and addict and there are other applied benefits, too. Robots that look like cuddly animals can be used in place of real animals for pet therapy. A automatic cat, for instance, doesn’t need food, water or a litter box and won’t blemish if it is awkward a bit too hard.

The downsides

The allowances of robots sound compelling, but there are downsides as well. Abnormally when there are abeyant conflicts amid the interests of people with dementia and their caregivers.

Carers need abutment and respite, but replacing human caregiving with technology can bankrupt people of social alternation and worsen the problems of bareness and isolation. What’s more, relying on robots to do home and self-care tasks can reduce the freedom of older adults.

Indeed, there’s a fine line amid using robots for benign analysis and infantilizing older people, when robots are used as toy-like dolls or teddy bears. New technologies should help people advance or advance skills and should account their years of life experience. A advice robot, for instance, could collaborate with a person to record a life diary and help remind her of important events and relationships.

Consent and aloofness issues arise if a person is unable to turn off ecology and data tracking features. Older people may prefer to “age in place” in a home and association where they feel a sense of attachment. Well-intentioned caregivers often want to abbreviate risks of harm, abnormally for elders living on their own, but advancing technology can make a home feel like a hospital or prison.

And technologies that draw absorption to disabilities and deficits can make people feel affected and stigmatized. In the way they are advised and answer in society, robots can bolster stereotypes that attenuate older people.

User-centerd analysis and design

It’s acute to accept the opinions and preferences of older adults and people with conditions, such as dementia. Technology developers are sometimes criticized for a conflict amid their activity for robots and other high-tech novelties, and the preferences of people living with dementia.

A recent review on the ethics of social and advantageous robotics for dementia care points out the botheration of a abandoned cycle: when user needs do not drive technology development, new articles will have low uptake, with the aftereffect that unmet needs persist.

The 2015 World Alzheimer Report urges that “research advance for dementia should be upscaled, commensurable to the civic cost of the disease.”

Most importantly, finite analysis assets must be spent wisely, with allusive captivation of those who are advised to account from new therapies and products.

Including citizens in science and research

There is growing activity for “democratizing” science and announcement aborigine assurance and accord in research. The Japanese Science and Technology Plan, for instance, calls on the “government, academia, industry and citizens” to work calm on big challenges, including the country’s super-ageing population.

And there are important critiques of what aborigine accord really means in health care and technology development. But aged associates of association and people with altitude such as dementia should not be sidelined.

Those allotment and arch technology development can be more proactive in agreeable with older people about their priorities and preferences. Aborigine jury techniques can be acclimatized to abutment chat among older people, technology specialists, engineers, researchers, and caregivers. And prototypes of new technologies can be trialled beforehand with user groups to get their feedback.

There are ethical and applied complexities in involving people with dementia in research, but they should not be automatically excluded. Supportive strategies can maximise the adeptness of people with cerebral crime to have a voice on what affairs to them.

Perhaps advice robots can one day help people accurate their views on having a robot in their life.The Conversation

Read next: A beginner's guide to AI: Supervised and unsupervised acquirements