Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Charlene Spangler, who lives in a dementia care facility in California, told her daughter that she wanted a dog for her 92nd birthday. At one time she had a family dog named "Wolfgang" but because of her dementia, had a hard time recalling his death.
Charlene's daughter, Linda, used to visit her every other day in which she would push her around in a wheelchair to watch the ducks and pet dogs.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, most of the activities that Charlene used to enjoy have been stripped away. Charlene and Linda are forced to communicate through video calls.
Linda knew that she could not get her mother a dog, but she thought of an alternative. Linda had heard about robotic pets and decided to look them up.
Linda decided to get her mom a fluffy robotic puppy, who Charlene named Dumbo.
Apparently, COVID-19 has created a pique in interest of these robotic animals. Public money is even being used to purchase them. These robotic pets are not cheap, but due to the FDA referring to these robots as "biofeedback devices", Medicare will cover the expenses of the robot.
Studies have shown that these fluffy robotic pets have decreased stress, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, depression, and more.
See Paula Span, In Isolating Times, Can Robo-Pets Provide Comfort?, N.Y. Times, September 27, 2020.
Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.