Japan’s government is providing incentives toward the development of robots to care for its aging population. The push for robotic care aims to serve those who need assistance with activities of daily living in addition to specific nursing care tasks, writes a report from the Japan Daily Press.
“The government has outlined the tasks that need robotic assistance, and there are four major kinds of robots that are included in the development plan – first is a motorized robot suit that can assist in lifting or moving non-ambulant elderly people so that caretakers do not need to exert as much physical strength,” according to the report. “Also included in the plan is the development of an ambulatory robot that can assist the elderly to walk by themselves, even on inclined surfaces.”
Additional services include a self-cleaning toilet and a robot that can monitor dementia patients’ whereabouts with an eye toward older people who may wander or become lost.
Beginning this year, the government is offering to subsidize 50% to 60% of research and development of the robots, the report writes.
The idea is not a new one. There are many applications currently being considered internationally with the similar goal of robotics to help care for the aging population.
Costs, however, remain prohibitive to producing robotics on a mass scale, the report states.
“The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is expecting the market for such products to boom, valued at upwards of 400 billion yen (4.09 billion dollars) by 2035,” according to the report. “And also according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, Japan has a chronic shortage of nursing care workers, falling short by at least 700,000 of the target number of workers in 2010. The ministry predicts a need for 4 million such workers in 2025.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker