Nassau County Department of Human Services, Office for the Aging was notified by New York State Office for the Aging in March 2020 of the opportunity to request animatronic pets in the form of kittens and puppies for distribution to County residents. New York State Office for the Aging partnered with award winning robotic pet manufacturer Ageless Innovations to distribute 1,100 robotic pets in New York State. Nassau County was able to request 16 puppies and 42 kittens.
These animatronic pets are intended help individuals at risk for social isolation or those with cognitive impairment. Social isolation was already considered a serious public health issue for older adults with limited social connections, but it especially apparent during the current pandemic, where older adults over the age of 60 are in one of the high-risk groups for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Adverse effects of social isolation include dementia, increased risk of hospital admission and increased risk of falls. For individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia or cognitive impairment, these animatronic fur-friends provide a sense of comfort, companionship and interaction for a group of individuals who have a difficult time communicating. The agitation of this population has been shown to decrease when coming into contact with an animatronic pet.
Animatronic pets are much more than a soft, stuffed animal. They react to petting, hugging and motion just as a real pet would, but do not require the feeding, potty breaks, or bathing or grooming that our real fur-friends require!
Nassau County Department of Human Services, Office for the Aging held its adoption day for the distribution of animatronic pets on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Office provided adoption certificate for all participants receiving a pet.