Companion Caregiver Robot May Be Future of Home Caregiving

In a recent poll conducted by the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today, the majority of seniors are content with their lives, until they need caregiving. The numbers show that the majority of caregiving falls on family members. But what happens when potential family caregivers live far away or have no desire or knowledge of how to provide that care?

Meet Hector.



The CompanionAble project has developed Hector the Companion Robot, whose goal is to help the elderly live at home (semi)-independently for as long as possible. Hector’s job is to assist with the activities of daily living for the elderly living with mild cognitive impairment. Hector demonstrated some of his care abilities such as diary management, reminders for taking medicines on time, and, setting up video-conferencing sessions to the EU President Jose Manuel Barroso and the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Marie Geoghegan-Quinn, at the European Innovation Convention in Brussels in December 2011. Final trials and demonstrations are underway in Spain, Netherlands, France and Belgium.

Hector-like companions have also recently appeared in film. Can real-life robotic companions be far behind?

Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank's son chooses a different option: against the old man's wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health.--Synopsis of the movie, Robot and Frank, starring Frank Langella.

Is this the future of caregiving? According to Project Coordinator Professor Atta Badi of The University of Reading, UK, Hector will provide cognitive support and stimulation of the elderly, to help them live at home longer. Tell us what you think of this innovative initiative.

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