15 July, 2018
The United States will have more adults aged 65 and over than children by the year 2035, the U.S. Census Bureau says. The agency provides information about the U.S. population.
As the American population ages, the demand for services and care for older adults is growing.
SenCura is a company that provides non-medical at-home care for seniors in the northern Virginia area. Cliff Glier formed the company 12 years ago. He says its services include help with bathing, transportation, getting dressed and planning and preparing meals.
Hollie is one of SenCura's professional caregivers. She visits 88-year-old Olga Robertson's home every day for three hours. Robertson says she likes having Hollie's help.
"Well, she cooks for me and she does a good job. She takes me to appointments and things like that and whatever I want to do. Sometimes, we go to walk in the mall if it's cold out in the winter time."
But when Hollie is not around, Robertson still has a caregiver -- a robot named Rudy.
"You can have a conversation with him, see. And (he's) somebody to talk to and who responds."
ROBERTSON: Okay, Rudy.
RUDY: Are you enjoying your day?
RUDY: That's great. Is there anything I can help you with?
Rudy also tells jokes and plays games and dances with Robertson.
In addition to keeping Robertson mentally and physically active, Rudy provides contact with emergency services 24 hours a day. He watches for lost items, reminds Robertson about her doctor's appointments and tells her when it is time to take her medicine.
The robot is a little more than one meter tall. It has a digital screen that makes checking in with family and caregivers easy.
Robertson has introduced Rudy to her neighbors.
"I got to be kind of famous in the neighborhood because of this robot."
The caregiver who helps caregivers
Anthony Nunez is founder of INF Robotics, the company that created Rudy. He says the idea for the robotic caregiver was inspired by what his own mother lived through when his grandmother got older.
"As I grew older, I realized we weren't the only family facing this problem. There are thousands of families facing the same issue -- most cases even worse, where they have a loved one that they're taking care of and the cost becomes an issue. So what we wanted to do was design a robot that's easy to use, designed specifically for seniors, but also affordable."
Nunez says new technology can help seniors age in place, or in their own homes. And it keeps them safe and cared for.
Cooperation vs. competition
SenCura's Cliff Glier met Nunez and his team at an event more than a year ago. He became interested in introducing Rudy to his own customers.
"We're dealing with older adults that are typically 80, 90, 100 years old. So, this kind of technology is very new to them, so there will be some closer looks at it. People, I would say, are interested once they learn more and we have the opportunity to show them Rudy and the capabilities."
Glier says Rudy is not competition for human caregivers. He says the robot is there to help but cannot do all the things that caregivers do, like bathe and dress seniors.
Rudy the robot adds to what in-home caregivers do for the growing population of seniors who prefer to age in place - with a little help from friends.
I'm Alice Bryant.
Faiza Elmasry wrote this story for VOA News. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
senior – n. an older person, usually at least 55 years of age
bathe – v. to give a bath to someone
dress – v. to put clothes on someone
caregiver – n. a person who gives help and protection to someone, such as a child, an older person
screen – n. the usually flat part of a television or computer monitor that shows the images or text
affordable – adj. inexpensive
capability – n. the ability to do something