Since the coronavirus outbreak, strict visitation rules and social distancing guidelines imposed at nursing homes in Florida have left some seniors feeling isolated.
In order to help them cope during the pandemic, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs is providing them with some furry new friends.
The agency announced on Monday that it’s providing 375 therapeutic robotic pets to socially isolated seniors and adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, according to a news release issued by the agency.
“We know social isolation disproportionately affects older adults, and COVID-19 has required people with dementia and their caregivers to remain alone for extended periods of time,” the release states.
The state’s Department of Elder Affairs hopes the pets can help the seniors combat social isolation and depression by improving their overall mood and quality of life.
An alternative to traditional pet therapy, research shows that the robotic pets have similar positive effects and is highly successful in decreasing social isolation for older adults, according to the agency’s news release.
“We know social isolation disproportionately affects older adults, and COVID-19 has required people with dementia and their caregivers to remain alone for extended periods of time,” Department of Elder Affairs secretary Richard Produm said in a statement. “We look forward to delivering these therapeutic robotic pets to those who will benefit from their companionship.”
The robotic pets were created by Ageless Innovation, a company that is devoted to developing fun and engaging products geared toward older adults.
The company has also partnered with the Association on Aging in New York to distribute up to 1,1100 robotic pets to those who are at the most risk for social isolation.
CNN’s Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.