The conversations of life

Robots will care for 80 per cent of Japanese elderly by 2020? It’s true

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The Japanese Government says it’s looking to fill a predicted shortfall of 370,000 caregivers by 2025 by pushing their wider use, including robots that can tell when a resident might need to use the toilet.

This ‘Robear’ robot is designed to transfer elderly people from a wheelchair to a bed or bath

Researchers there have already developed lifting robots that help residents in and out of bed and bathtubs, but these are only used in around eight per cent of nursing homes.

One new robotic device being promoted is an electric-boosted mobility aid that a person can hold onto when walking around city streets. It has sensors that activate a booster function if it detects a user is going uphill and kicks in an automatic brake when going downhill to prevent falls – impressive technology.

More help on hand

The Government says the robots will cut the workload for nursing staff and provide elderly people living at home with more independence.

Around a quarter of Japan’s population is aged over 65 – around 33 million people – and many of its nursing homes are already full because of high demand.

In my experience as a nurse, I don’t think you can completely replace the company of a human carer.

However if the choice is no care at all, I have to say it has potential. So how will Japan’s elderly cope with their robot carers?

The Japanese do love their technology – like these self-driving slippers Nissan has invented that can “park” themselves in restaurants when you take them off.

Don’t believe us? Check out the video here.

Annie Donaldson

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.


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