I was reading the New York Times the other day, and came across an article titled, Helper Robots Are Steered, Tentatively, to Care for the Aging. This intrigued me on several levels. Working in healthcare, Iím always interested in new advances in patient care.
Also, since my current job is to train home health aides, I know that there are many more home care patients waiting for aide service than there are aides available to take care of them. And lastly, because I am a card carrying AARP member, I wonder if someday, a robot will be the one to help me with my activities of daily living, also known as ADLs.
ADLs consist of personal care and light housekeeping. And personal care involves bathing, toileting, dressing, meal prep and reminding me to take my medicine. How would that work exactly? Pretending for a moment that I am elderly, would I accept help with my ADLs from a robot?
First, letís define elderly. At the ripe, old age of 57, Iím starting to get a little touchy about being thought of as elderly. I think age is relative. Itís all about how old we feel, not an arbitrary date on a calendar.
The other day, I was at an event, and I mentioned to a group of 30-somethings that I had recently gotten a new job. One particular dewy young thing said to me, ďOh, youíre still working? Good for you!Ē
Good for me? Of course, Iím still working. Iíve got a mortgage, car payments and all the other usual expenses. Social security doesnít kick in for another five to seven years, if it kicks in at all. Who really knows what the future holds?
I was at another function recently, where there was a band, and I was dancing to some pretty jazzy rock and roll. When I finished, yet another easy, breezy youngster remarked, ďHow nice to see you still out there having a good time!Ē Really? How old to I look anyway? This time, I couldnít restrain myself. ďYes,Ē I replied. ďAnd I left my walker at home, too.Ē
So anyway, it rankles me a bit to be thought of as elderly. Iím thinking I have at least another 30 to 40 years before I need to accept the mantle of advanced old age. My ADLs are all in tiptop shape right now, thank you very much.
But whatever the case, it appears that robots will be part of the future of caring for the aging population. To me that feels slightly Orwellian. Or is the reference Iím looking for, the movie, Soylent Green?
But maybe a robot caretaker doesnít have to be creepy. Maybe it can be fun. I guess if I have to have a robot someday, Iíd like it to look like Robert Downey Jr.
Iíd also like it to be well programmed in French cuisine and Swedish massage. If it can uncork a bottle of red wine, so much the better.
Who said my ADLs had to be boring?