Assisted living facility uses robotic pets to help with dementia therapy

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - A Homestead assisted living facility is taking an innovative approach to treating its patients.

“It’s crazy how we see such an amazing reaction,” said Jennifer Almodovar of the Palace Gardens care facility. “They have life-like reactions. They purr, simulated heartbeats, they bark or meow, and some of the residents, believe it or not, think they’re real.”

The facility uses the robotic pets for patients with different forms of dementia instead of always relying on medications.

“Typical symptoms of dementia would be aggression, anxiety, wandering,” Almodovar said. “Having the animal in front of them gives them something to focus on, it brings them delight. They’re maintenance free, so they wouldn’t have to clean up after them.”

Richard and Mary McCrae each have a parent who calls the Palace Gardens home. They were introduced to the robotic pets here as a therapy tool.

“It just broadens their world,” said Mary McCrae.

The McCraes said there’s no doubt the robotic pets make a big difference.

“When he was first introduced to one, [he] did not want to give it back. It was like, ‘This is mine. This likes me as much as I like it,'” said Richard.

Richard believes that, in a sense, it’s like the family members coming to visit them.

In addition to the robotic animals, the Palace Gardens also has a multi-sensory room, another option to help their patients.

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