Understanding the Benefits of the Stretch Mobile Manipulator Robot to Support Older Adults, Family Care Partners, and Professional Caregivers

1/17/2024 6:15:00 AM Hannah Wirth

ClarkLindsey logoAcademic mentors: Wendy Rogers | Raksha Mudar | Samuel Olatunji

Community partner: ClarkLindsey Village

Project Description: 
Assistive robots have the potential to support family care partners and professional caregivers in the care of older adults. This forecasts enhancement of individual autonomy, and reduction of healthcare costs associated with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's dementia, and mobility impairments for older adults. Stretch is a mobile manipulator robot designed to support everyday activities through use of a lightweight telescoping arm mounted on a mobile base. This project is funded by the National Institute on Aging and is designed to understand the potential for Stretch to support older adults, family care partners, and professional caregivers. Older adults who have cognitive impairments and/or mobility impairment often rely on care partners to assist with multiple activities including activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, dressing), IADLs (e.g., shopping, paying bills), and others (e.g., managing healthcare, safety). The demands of caregiving are time-intensive and could be more demanding in situations where there are symptoms of dementia or physical impairment that pose the risk of declines in functional independence of the older adults. Stretch, as an assistive robot, can assist with everyday activities and opens a host of opportunities to expand the range of support that can be provided.  The project focuses on two general categories of tasks (cognitive and physical) to support the needs of older adults with cognitive impairment (MCI/early AD) and/or mobility impairment. We are partnering with ClarkLindsey, a life plan community, to test the potential of Stretch for supporting both residents and staff. During the summer of 2024, we plan to conduct a needs assessment with ClarkLindsey staff and residents to identify and evaluate the activities for which Stretch can provide support. We will share the findings with the design team at Hello Robot to tailor the robotic support to the care demands and interests of the care partners at ClarkLindsey.

Role of the Community-Academic Scholar:
The Community-Academic Scholar will be involved in the development of the needs assessment study as well as in the recruitment, data collection, preliminary data analyses, and dissemination of research. They will be engaged in study planning the study, engaging with participants, and participating in activities related to understanding the needs of the staff and residents at ClarkLindsey, and will assist with preliminary analyses of the data and presenting the findings to the Hello Robot design team and ClarkLindsey staff.