Some people love robots, but many people have concerns that range from potential job losses to cyber safety and loss of personal connections. So what will it take for those of us in North America to embrace and accept the role of social robots to support older adults? Lee St James was interviewed for the February 23rd episode of the Tech Pro Unicorn podcast by Michael Grace from Phoenix, Arizona. She shares her vision for SOCIAL robots that can help people stay connected, communicate, engage and interact with each other.
I have a vision to have a social robot in every retirement home in North America… as just a first step to alleviate the desperate conditions that many older adults find themselves in… Lee St James
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Desperate for Workers

According to an article in the LA Times published in July 2019: Japan’s lead in advanced robotics for healthcare is driven by its demographic conundrum. More than most, the nation’s population is shrinking and aging rapidly. Already more than a quarter of its population is 65 or older (compared with 16% in the United States), and by 2050, that’s expected to rise to around 40% in Japan. Even now elderly are taking care of elderly. Although we are lagging the demographic trends in Asia, North America is in the midst of a major demographic shift. In the coming decades, people aged 65 and over will make up an increasingly large percentage of the population. According to the National Academies Press*, in the United States, the ratio of people aged 65+ to people aged 20-64 will rise by 80%. This shift is happening for two reasons: people are living longer, and many couples are choosing to have fewer children and to have those children somewhat later in life. We are already finding ourselves in situations where jobs can’t be filled. That means we need to find innovative solutions and embrace technologies that can help. *Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Aging and the Macroeconomy: Long-Term Implications of an Older Population. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Robots Can Help

While social robots are not ‘autonomous’ – meaning, they do not operate on their own – they can be used to augment recreation staff and care providers as they work to engage residents. The more we can do to expand the capacity of existing staff and volunteers, and to make their jobs easier, the better off the residents and staff will be. Please take a listen to this podcast and share it with people you think might benefit from social robots. Together, we can make a difference and expedite the acceptance of social robots.

About Tech Pro Unicorn

Tech Pro Unicorn is a podcast about the magic of digital transformation through technology. Michael typically discusses the topics of ERP, Technology, Healthcare, Business Transformation, Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation through commentary and interviews. The podcast is sponsored by RPI Consultants – a company that was founded in 1999 to help organizations better leverage enterprise technology and software applications to streamline and automate business processes and increase operational efficiency.