It is an undeniable reality that many elderly people live alone in Spain. Either because of the circumstances of life, or because they have no one, precisely in old age is when we most need someone around us to reduce that isolation of loneliness, the forgetfulness typical of age -or illness-, and help them socialize.
In the city of Barcelona there are 350,000 people over 65, 90,000 of whom live alone. Over the next few years this figure is expected to increase progressively. Barcelona currently has 13,000 places in publicly financed residences for the elderly, with a waiting list that exceeds 6,000 people. Studies reveal that 90% of older people want to stay at home for as long as possible and avoid going to a residence or home with their children.
And as Isaac Asimov would have written, in times when one human being cannot help another, perhaps robotic technology can. That is the idea behind Misty II, a project of the Barcelona Mobile World Capital Foundation (MWCapital) aimed at “improving the quality of life of the elderly through technology”.
Misty II, a Spanish social robot
Presented last January, almost toy-sized and with a very classic design – it looks like a robot from the 80s – Misty II is a little assistant equipped with sensors, cameras, speakers and microphones that interacts with the person who has a position, helping her by giving her conversation and remembering important things.
The users selected for the Misty II project are living with one of the four robots that have been made available for the pilot test. These robots will change homes every two months. The municipal staff “will evaluate the circumstances of the users before and after living with the robot, as well as the situation of the carers involved in the care process.”
At the same time, the robot’s operation and applications can be improved from experience gained in a real environment. The main objective is to study to what extent the quality of life and well-being of older people with some type of dependency and also of caregivers can be improved through the assistance of a social robot.
Reduce isolation with technology
Among the points of interest of this study are:
Check if the robot helps reduce the isolation of the elderly
If it serves to monitor your health
If it is useful to reduce forgetfulness in taking medications or when attending medical visits.
In fact, robots with digital and interconnection capabilities can be an integrating element of various digital devices that are already installed in the home of the elderly, such as communication elements or sensors.
If the results are positive, “the possibility of progressively extending the use of the robot to more homes in the city will be studied”. The project wants to “ensure equity in the area of care for the elderly so that not only people with a family network or those with higher purchasing power receive adequate care. The challenge for public administrations is based on studying how to achieve more equitable, more sustainable and better quality care ”.