Low-cost pet robots demonstrate the potential to positively impact the psychosocial health of people with dementia and their caregivers. Due to their lower cost, they may be more accessible and affordable and should therefore be considered for use in dementia care.
Explanation and examples
Although pet robots have demonstrated positive impacts on the wellbeing of people with dementia, their affordability can impede their uptake in dementia care. A scoping review, content analysis of consumer reviews and a qualitative study showed that the impacts of low-cost pet robots on people with dementia resembled the effects of other higher costed (but more advanced) pet robots. These included improved mood, companionship, increased activity engagement and reduced anxiety. Caregivers also experienced knock-on effects, such as feelings of joy and relief. Low-cost pet robots are more widely accessible to the public since they can be purchased off-the-shelf. While promising, findings of their positive impacts are subject to bias. More rigorous studies are necessary to confirm their impacts.
ThemesCaregivers Dementia Older adults People with dementia Pet robots Psychosocial impact Robotic pets Social robots
Target groupsDementia care organisations (nursing homes & day care centres) Dementia researchers Healthcare professionals Social robot designers/developers
Type of evidence
Scoping review, qualitative content analysis, qualitative study (interviews with care providers)
Koh, W. Q., Ang, F. X. H., & Casey, D. (2021). Impacts of low-cost robotic pets for older adults and people with dementia: scoping Review. JMIR rehabilitation and assistive technologies, 8(1), e25340, 1-14. doi.org/10.2196/25340
Koh, W. Q., Whelan, S. A., Heins, P., Casey, D., Toomey, E., & Dröes, R.M. (2021). Usability and impact of a low-cost robotic pet for older adults and people with dementia: a qualitative content analysis of user experiences and perceptions on consumer websites. JMIR Aging, 5(1), e29224, 1-16. doi.org/10.2196/29224
Koh, W.Q., Toomey, E., Flynn, A. & Casey, D. (2022). Determinants of implementing of pet robots in nursing homes for dementia care. BMC Geriatrics, 22(1), 457, 1-12. doi.org/10.1186/s12877-022-03150-z