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Samsung Group announces Bot Care as a possible sustainable solution to in-home senior care

Could Robotic In-Home Caretakers Replace Assisted Living and Senior Care Facilities?

By Sharlene Oong on Feb 28, 2019
Globally, many countries are facing an aging population crisis with the number of individuals over the age of 65 quickly becoming the largest demographic. With life expectancy at an all-time high, long-term care has become critical whether in-home or at an assisted living facility. News recently broke that the Samsung Group is looking to provide an affordable solution to in-home senior care through their robot, Bot Care. This robot will support various health tasks including heart rate and blood pressure monitoring, medication reminders, fall detection (alerting paramedics), and social engagement through conversation.

“Assistive robotics is a [field] that shows promise to aid the elderly in their day-to-day tasks,” state Prof. Lundy Lewis from Southern New Hampshire University, USA), and et. al, in their chapter, “An Autonomous Robot-to-Group Exercise Coach at a Senior Living Community: A Study in Human-Robot Interaction,” from Rapid Automation: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. Companion robots are able to perform socialization, alleviating loneliness and depression, as seniors enjoy talking about the past. Additionally, they can also help seniors conduct physical activities, which help produce “long-term health benefits and help reduce the risk of certain diseases and disabilities that develop as people grow older (Exercise and Physical Activity, 2016).”

However, many experts are arguing that this machine replacement is not a realistic solution to senior care and are strongly advocating for increased government funding for healthcare facilities, in-home care programs, and financial assistance to families. Prof. Lewis and et.al, also bring up the further discussion of how robots “do not have the means to perceive whether participants are completing the exercises successfully, nor does it maintain a running tab of each participant’s progress in order to plan future exercise routines.”

Showcasing that many experts are arguing that this machine replacement is not a realistic solution to senior care and are strongly advocating for increased government funding for healthcare facilities, in-home care programs, and financial assistance to families.

Prof. Cristina Albuquerque from the University of Coimbra, Portugal, author of the chapter, “Social Care and Life Quality of Frail or Dependent Elderly: The Contribution of Technologies,” from the International Journal of Privacy and Health Information Management (IJPHIM), brings up the need for the elderly to have personalized attention, as the individuals will have a variety of needs the robots would need to adhere to. “Like this new technology devices and ICT for elderly people can play an important role, not only in producing innovative answers, but also adapt these answers to new expectations and needs,” she states.

Although the robots are useful, they are costly for the elderly population, as well as their families, further increasing the need for more partnerships and articulation within the fields of health, education, and research. Not only should devices be programmed to deliver the individual, familial, social, and medical expectations and exigencies, researchers and policy makers need to “address the accountability processes as well as the respect warranty of privacy and confidentiality,” according to Prof. Albuquerque.

In order to fully meet the needs of the growing elderly population, technology developers need to ensure that quality control is present in the process of creating the appropriate devices. Furthermore, the field of geriatric care should be further examined and expanded by industry experts and professionals, to better inform engineers and policy makers to provide an mutually beneficial and sustainable solution for senior in-home care.

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