First Aging2.0 event – Social Robots & Older Adults – a huge success

Elder Care Alliance’s (ECA) inaugural Aging2.0 event – Social Robots & Older Adults – was held Oct. 16 and was a huge success with more than 35 engaged attendees.

ECA launched an Aging2.0 chapter in August and the October event was its first of four planned events for the first year.

The purpose of the event was to learn about research related to social robots and how they might integrate into the older adult setting.

Erin Partridge, Aging2.0 deputy ambassador and experiential researcher in residence at ECA, was one of the panelists along with Daniella DiPaolo, a user experience researcher who is passionate about bringing innovative consumer products to market. They talked through what they wanted people to walk away with – from both business and older adult perspectives.

Answering questions like: How do we understand this category better? How can it be effective with older adults?

“It was really exciting to see this dialogue centering on the older adult voices. It was more of a conversation. Everyone had a seat at the table. It really, really felt like a meeting of the minds,” says Partridge. “I was most excited about being able to tell the stories and bring the voices of older adults directly to the technology industry. And also being able to quote that resident was cool. It is a powerful statement.”

The pair had a room full of enthusiastic attendees to present to, including older adults who had a seat at the table like Margaret Walker, who lives at Mercy Retirement & Care Center. Margaret was one older adult in particular who found the presentation fascinating.

Erin said some of Margaret’s fears about technology resonated with the group and it was really empowering for others. Erin said Margaret was pretty much “mobbed” after the event as so many people wanted to talk with her.

Margaret admitted before the event and the robot exercise that she was very dubious of technology and the role it may play in the lives of older adults. “My evaluation of potential greatly changed,” she says.

She recounted one aspect of the robotic cat and how when it was stroked it purred. She admitted she would be okay with a robotic cat.

“I was very much in favor of technology. I was the unifying voice,” Margaret says.

She also said once the group started seeing the capabilities of technology and robots, it was easier to envision more.

“This work is part of us being engaged with the older adults and really allowing them to tell their stories,” says Erin.

Aging2.0 is dedicated to supporting cutting-edge organizations that focus on both opportunities and challenges in the aging services industry.

ECA’s leadership of the Alameda Chapter will feature a unique point-of-view the lens of the “smart skeptic” about technology and aging. We’ll ask tough questions and pressure test ideas to break ourselves and our colleagues from stale assumptions. We also strive to include the voice of older adults.