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Feeling alone in the pandemic? Robotic pets can serve as a companion

"It gives them a sense of nurturing and it’s very comforting to have a pet around."

SAN ANTONIO — A dog that barks and a cat that meows. But it’s not a real animal; it’s a robotic pet. And it could make a world of a difference for someone who is alone in the pandemic.

"People are requesting them all the time because their family cannot visit them. If they’re in assisted living, if they’re in a hospital, they’re not allowed in. So this is a connection that they can have," said CEO of healthcare products LLC of the Alzheimer's Store Bruce Barnet.

Barnet said the store sells hundreds of products on their website that assist people of older age, especially those with memory loss. But why sell robotic pets? 

"I know one of my friends visited her mother the other day and all she could do was wave to her from the outside the window. It gives somebody a connection, and that’s what they really need. Especially when they’re so alone. Especially with COVID when nobody can even visit them," said Barnet.

University of Texas at San Antonio biology professor George Perry said, especially in a time of social distancing, having that sense of touch can really make a difference

"They can fill in a void, especially during COVID, where people do not have the chance of hugging or all of those tactile things that are so critical for all people. Whether you’re old or not old," said Perry.

Perry is also the editor and chief for the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the largest journal in the Alzheimer's field. He said that people with Alzheimer's make up more than a quarter of coronavirus patients who have passed away. 

"These robotic pets give them something to not feel so alone in a time of isolation," said Perry.

These devices on the Alzheimer's Store's website start at $109 and they ship across the world.

"If this were my parent and they were restricted in who they could visit and didn’t have a pet, I would think of doing this," said Perry.

For more information about robotic pets, such as how to purchase one, and The Alzheimer's Store, visit their website here.