wings and things

Paro: the robotic ‘pet’

on July 17, 2015

It’s around a year since I became aware that staff at Anthony’s nursing home were raising money to buy an electronic pet to be shared amongst people with dementia. ‘Paro’, a fluffy, white seal pretend-pet, once its battery is charged, is extraordinarily real, warm and responsive, with blinking eyes and little sighs.

Here is a link to a bit of information about Paro:

Anyway, a single Paro cost thousands of dollars, so it has taken a lot of incredibly determined fund-raising efforts from staff, donations from relatives, friends, and the board of management, to purchase the first of two Paros for this particular nursing home.

Okay, to begin with I was rather cynical and a bit mystified as to how this robotic ‘pet’ could help, and the expense seemed over the top! But today I visited the dementia cottage and B was in her room cuddling Paro. I asked B if I could see what Paro looked like and she said yes. So I just touched the furry little bundle nestled into B’s collarbone and Paro did a little squeal of joy and its eyes looked at me. I wasn’t prepared for this so I did a little squeal of shock and B laughed then cuddled the real warmth of Paro against her chest before dismissing me.

One of the staff told me today that when one of the women in the dementia cottage was in tears, Paro was given to her and she immediately calmed down.

Like doll therapy, Paro, the robotic seal, is probably a controversial dementia-care tool/issue, and it/he/she is certainly incredibly expensive. Also, for those who are unfamiliar with all of the different categories of dementia, the presence of a Paro might seems utterly weird.

But, for those of us who don’t have dementia, and who worry about the dignity and comfort of our loved ones who do have dementia, just suspend your disbelief for a moment.

It is – this Paro – a beautiful invention.

50 responses to “Paro: the robotic ‘pet’

  1. Read the article – sounds like your lodge is very forward thinking. Well done them.

  2. What a lovely tool to help those afflicted by alzheimers and dementia. I hope Ants’ home can raise enough money to get one!

  3. letstalkaboutfamily says:

    My father would have loved that! He kept asking for a cat but I knew he couldn’t care for one and I couldn’t be there every day. He never had a cat and didn’t understand how a real pet couldn’t be ignored. This pet is there without responsibility either from the resident or staff. I think it is a wonderful idea!

  4. Vicki says:

    If any Dementia (or other serious debilitating health condition for that matter) patient finds comfort and pleasure in an artificial ‘pet’, who are we to dismiss the idea.

    I’m sure many of us get an enormous amount of pleasure in some weird or wonderful material possession which many might find strange. And I wouldn’t mind betting that we spent some obscene amount of money on it which we could ill afford at the time of purchase (says she, who gets a thrill every time she puts a load of washing in her new washing machine and/or clothes dryer which are now 3months old. Dare I say I almost feel like stroking its smooth clean white surface with something close to Love) 😀

  5. I watched the video, and I think the gentleness of Paro will help those with dementia… I know dogs and cats are good too, but Paro will not even move abruptly or anything so would be definitely a calming influence to many I think… Diane

  6. susanpoozan says:

    I sometimes see an elderly woman on the bus and she is always cuddling a soft toy to her collarbone. I understand why she does this now it obviously gives her security like a security blanket does for a small child.

  7. If it gives comfort, I know that dogs and cats often do, but when they aren’t a viable option, why not a cuddly robot, if it does the same? Hugs Jules 😀

  8. Tiny says:

    I really like the fact that there are this kind of inventions that can be used for comfort and therapy. Here’s to Paro ~

  9. What a wonderful use of human ingenuity, creativity and technology!

    Love this Julie. thank you for telling me about Paro — soooo cool!

  10. angelasommers says:

    How wonderful! Would you please tell us how/where we can contribute so that the nursing home can get the second one?

  11. Judy says:

    I’ve heard of pyromaniacs – so now I’ve got a new term about this! Someone that is in love with Paro is a “Paromaniac.” Not sure if joking is appropriate but honestly, this is very touching and I think Paro is fantastic!

  12. Amy says:

    That’s amazing. I guess anything that can bring some comfort is definitely worth it.

  13. tootlepedal says:

    I hope they can raise enough funds to buy more.

  14. Yvonne says:

    What a good idea, when real little animals might pose a few ‘dangers’ to the folks with dementia.

  15. artfulanxiety says:

    Totally makes sense when you think about how people use dogs as companion pets for those who are suffering from mental illness. There’s a lot ot be said for something that can love you unconditionally, and I don’t think that’s any less of a fact just because it’s a robot.

  16. How fascinating Julie – don’t knock if it works, right? ❤
    Diana xo

  17. I had no idea they had these. Sort of amazing, but wouldn’t a live dog or cat be better? I assume you have animals trained to visit nursing homes and hospitals.

  18. Terry says:

    What an innovative idea!

  19. Something that gives comfort. Smiles. Warmth. And gets response and affection. I’m not sure why anyone would ever not believe in it.

  20. Ann Koplow says:

    Wonderful and therapeutic — like your blog, Julie.

  21. how beautiful this little “robot” creature sounds! i am all for anything legal that makes someone, ill or not, relax and feel joy. how can that be a bad thing? sometimes we over think these things rather than trust what our eyes and hearts are telling us.

    i believe

    • jmgoyder says:

      I feel I have neglected you Sandra – I see you on FB but am always rushing through various blog and FB posts and don’t always comment – so sorry. My feelings for you run so much deeper than ‘likes’ and I don’t want to make superficial ‘happy’ comments when your situation is so dire. Not one day goes by when I don’t think about how you are, how you are both coping etc. etc. Love you very much.

      • you are simply living life and that is what i would want for you. i know how you feel and i feel the same way! i don’t need more, i just want you to be doing the things that make you happy. you have a man to spend time with, a son and are working to organize the clutter in your life. this will bring you peace and that is my fondest wish for you. sending you love and warm hugs.

  22. Had not heard of Paro – sounds like a wonderful addition. Will be interested in hearing your observations on how it works with the residents over time.

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