As the population of older adults rises, we are investigating ways that technology can support healthy aging in the home and wellness in skilled nursing facilities. This work is supported by the NSF and NIH.
Increases in life expectancy foreshadow the need for new resources for the care of older adults in the United States and beyond. In many older adult communities, shortcomings are already present in resources available to encourage physical activity, cognitive exercise, social connectedness, and entertainment for residents (among other areas).
To ensure healthy aging opportunities for older adults, we propose to: (1) design autonomous robotic systems to support the above-mentioned types of needs; (2) enable these systems with the ability to learn and adapt over time to maintain relevance and interest; and (3) to deploy these robotic systems for extended periods of time in the environments of interest. This last step is vital for truly understanding how and whether this type of robotic system can lead to meaningful change in wellness-related outcomes (e.g., physical abilities, cognitive function, psychological well-being). Importantly, our proposed system aims to augment, not replace, human-led care by filling in gaps that human staff are not currently able to cover (e.g., supporting exercise routines for functional maintenance after rehabilitation or between visits with a physical therapist).