A daughter motivated to improve her elderly mother’s failing health thinks up a clever invention.
If I won the lottery, I would invest in a robot that comforts people who have dementia. We have every device imaginable to make an adorable infant even more content. On the other end of the spectrum, we have abandoned our elders to institutions that cannot meet their needs.
However, the robot is programmed to fill that void. The older person can repeat all he/she wants to the robot. It never gets irritated and it never says things like, “I told you already!!!” It never says, “You just said that!!” It does not say, “You drive me crazy!” It does not break down and cry. It does not say, “I can’t stand this anymore!” The robot understands. The robot does not get exasperated. The robot expects nothing in return. You can always count on the robot. It is always on time. It is always in a good mood. You cannot stress out the robot. Its existence depends on your happiness.
The robot would reduce the agony of a faltering mind. The robot is a comforter, a supporter. The robot can help construct their world. The robot does not steal from them. The robot does not finagle money from them. The robot does not abuse their vulnerability. The reliability, responsibility, loyalty of the robot fosters a bond with the elder that exceeds most humans.
The robot is indestructible. You can kick it. You can spit on it. You can hit it. You can scream and rage and curse it. It remains the same. It is there, and ready to comfort. It will never feed you tranquilizers or tie you to a bed or put you in a wheelchair. It will not force its will on you.
The robot is not imposing, even though it is strong. Its exterior is made of the smoothest skin with soft, velvety hairs. It has a heart that beats like a human heart, and a very comfortable lap for long hours of rocking and holding. It has a smell of orange blossoms. It hums like a gentle wind, and purrs like a kitten. It gurgles and churns and laughs. Its body exudes an engulfing warmth that makes you want to snuggle close. You can crawl into a fetal position and spend hours in the glow and rhythm of this artificially controlled “being.” The comfort is so nurturing. It is like being in the womb.
The robot stands the same size as so many of our elderly. It is 5 feet tall. It is light. It is liftable. It can move with a remote, or voice control. It can be hooked on to the person or wheelchair, and the speed can be monitored. It can sit or lie down. It can lift heavy objects. It can drive a car or bus or truck. It can shop, cook, clean up, make beds, bathe people, dress them, give them their pills, and put them to bed. It can tell a story, read a story, tell a joke, recite a poem, sing an aria or folk song, and speak several languages. It knows current events, and it remembers birthdays. It can call your family. It can write emails. It can open Facebook and Twitter accounts. It can take perfect photos and selfies.
The robot would be cheap to duplicate. Everyone with the disease would be eligible to own one made specifically to address their illness and their needs. It would do away with drugging the elderly, since the robot would address the aloneness, isolation, and fright that cause the behavior issues. The government would support the construction and distribution of the robots. Families would be free of the responsibility of caring for their failing parents. The ones that could, would continue. The robot can be used full, part time, or rarely.
No one will have to die alone.
I would be so happy to donate the millions from the lottery to build this “pilot” robot.
My mom would be the first recipient
Nancy Silver is a teacher, freelance journalist for The Berkeley Daily Planet, and caregiver to her once brilliant elderly mother. She wants to pursue her “invention,” since she has a clear image of the robot. Her email is: SilverNan@gmail.com.