June 23, 2024


Nice News - Animals’ ability to ease human loneliness is well-documented, and it turns out that robotic versions of common pets can have similar effects for older adults who may not be able to care for a living cat or dog. “There’s somebody here listening to me. He’s warm and he’s comfort,” Helen Macura, who received a free robotic pup from the New York State Office For Aging, told ABC News. She named him Friendly.

Earlier this month, the office announced an expansion of the program, delivering 4,725 animatronic pets and games to older residents. That’s in addition to the 31,500 robot pets it has distributed since 2018.  Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist who has been studying loneliness for over two decades, said it’s important to combat feelings of isolation in the aging population, as it can be deadly. In her research, included in a 2023 report from the U.S. Surgeon General, Holt-Lunstad found that the mortality impact of social disconnection is comparable to that of smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.  Macura, 101, recommends that “every home” have a pet like Friendly — “Especially the older senior citizens that are living alone. They should have companionship, good companionship.”

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