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Gerontechnology Companion: Virtual pets for dementia patients

April 3, 2014

Machesney, D., Wexler, S.S., Chen, T., & Coppola, J.F. (2014). Gerontechnology Companion: Virtual pets for dementia patients. IEEE Long Island Systems, Applications and Technology Conference, Long Island, NY.


As the population of older adults, ages 65 and older, rises from 39.6 million in 2009 to approximately 72.1 million by 2030, there is a need to meet this aging imperative and develop age sensitive services. Technology is seizing the opportunity to make a difference in the quality of life of these individuals. With the introduction of user friendly tablets and interactive applications the geriatric populous, their families and the medical community can benefit from programs such as the Gerijoy Companion. The companion application utilizes a touch screen tablet's microphone and video camera to enhance the experience of the elder. The companion can be installed on any android device that has Wi-Fi or GSM compatibility. Using a consistent internet connection, every action and conversation an elder has with the companion is recorded inside a database in order to create a long lasting relationship with the elder. The companion can save lists of emergency numbers to be contacted if the need arises. More importantly, the person on the other side of the tablet can visually identify whether the elder has experienced any physical heads injuries. Caregivers and family members can participate by uploading photos into their elder's account or submitting important information the live person, the “Gerijoy helper” may need to know. Currently, the research being conducted is with community dwelling older adults who live alone and are experiencing loneliness, depression, and / or a decline in cognitive abilities related to some form of dementia including Alzheimer's disease. A complete health history is recorded along with an initial depression and cognitive assessment. A follow-up assessment of depression and cognition is taken at a later date to secure information on the progress of the individual related to their use of the Gerijoy Companion. This data will be compiled to confirm the benefits of this application. Through conversation and photographs, the elder client can remain grounded in reality; this may slow down the progression cognitive deficits that are associated with dementia and depression. Gerijoy has already made a significant impact in the quality of life for the seniors who have participated in the program, family members and caregivers have expressed that their loved ones quality of life has improved. The elder clients' disposition and attitudes became happier as they made more contact with the community and their families. The need for technology to enhance the life of the geriatric population is a great opportunity for the future an d we are doing our part to make a difference now and in the future.


Cited in Papers - Other Publishers (6)

1.Gomathi Thangavel, Mevludin Memedi, Karin Hedström, "Customised Information and Communication Technology for Reducing Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Older Adults: A Scoping Review (Preprint)", JMIR Mental Health, 2021.CrossRef Google Scholar

2.Kristen R Haase, Theodore Cosco, Lucy Kervin, Indira Riadi, Megan E O'Connell, "Older Adults’ Experiences With Using Technology for Socialization During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Cross-sectional Survey Study", JMIR Aging, vol.4, no.2, pp.e28010, 2021.CrossRef Google Scholar

3.Gomathi Thangavel, Mevludin Memedi, Karin Hedström, , 2021.CrossRef

4.Mohammed Alsaqer, "Aging and technology: understanding the issues and creating a base for technology designers", Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology, pp.1, 2021.CrossRef Google Scholar

5.Giovanni Ottoboni, Teresa Gallelli, Elena Mariani, Valentina Rebecca Soluri, Stefano Nunziata, Alessia Tessari, Jean-Pierre Savary, Rabih Chattat, "Remote home physical training for seniors: guidelines from the AAL-supported MOTION project", European Journal of Ageing, 2018.CrossRef Google Scholar

6.Yi-Ru Regina Chen, Peter J Schulz, "The Effect of Information Communication Technology Interventions on Reducing Social Isolation in the Elderly: A Systematic Review", Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol.18, no.1, pp.e18, 2016.CrossRef Google Scholar



IEEE Keywords

Positron emission tomography,Avatars,IEEE 802.11 Standards,Educational institutions,Internet,Communities,GSM

INSPEC: Controlled Indexing

Android (operating system),avatars,cognition,diseases,Internet,medical computing,notebook computers,touch sensitive screens,video cameras,wireless LAN

INSPEC: Non-Controlled Indexing

gerontechnology companion,virutal pets,dementia patients,age sensitive services,user friendly tablets,interactive applications,Gerijoy Companion,touch screen tablet microphone,video camera,Android device,Wi-Fi compatibility,GSM compatibility,consistent Internet connection,physical heads injury identification,Gerijoy helper,cognitive abilities,Alzheimer's disease,health history recording,depression assessment,cognitive assessment,life enhancement,dog avatar

Author Keywords

Alzheimer's Disease,Android,companion animals,elderly,lonliness,older adult,pet therapy,senior citizen,service animals,service-dog,technology

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