Promoting health and prolonging independence in the home is a priority for older adults, caregivers, clinicians, and society at large. Rapidly developing robotics technology provides a platform for interventions, with the fields of physically and socially assistive robots expanding in recent years. However, less attention has been paid to using robots to enhance the cognitive health of older adults. The goal of this review is to synthesize the current literature on home-based cognitively assistive robots (CAR) in older adults without dementia and to provide suggestions to improve the quality of the scientific evidence in this subfield. First, we set the stage for CAR by: a) introducing the field of robotics to improve health, b) summarizing evidence emphasizing the importance of home-based interventions for older adults, c) reviewing literature on robot acceptability in older adults, d) highlighting important ethical issues in healthcare robotics, and e) reviewing current findings on socially assistive robots, with a focus on translating findings to the CAR context. With this foundation in place, we then review the literature on CAR, identifying gaps and limitations of current evidence, and proposing future directions for research. We conclude that CAR is promising and feasible and that there is a need for more methodologically rigorous evaluations of CAR to promote prolonged home-based independence in older adults.
Keywords: aging; autonomy; cognitive status; healthy aging; successful aging; technology.
© 2020 Van Patten et al.