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Life Happens: I’ll take my robot with a fine bordeaux

HAMBURG — I was reading The New York Times the other day and came across an article titled, “Helper robots are steered, tentatively, to care for the aging.”

This intrigued me, on several levels. Working in healthcare, I’m always interested in new advances in patient care.

Since my current job is to train home health aides, I know that there are many more home care patients waiting for aide service than there are aides available, to take care of them.

Because I am a card-carrying AARP member, I wonder if, someday, a robot will be the one to help me with my activities of daily living.

ADLs consist of personal care and light housekeeping. Personal care, in turn, involves bathing, toileting, dressing, meal preparations and medication reminders.

How would this setup work? I pretended, for a moment, that I was elderly. Would I accept help with my ADLs, from a robot?

Let’s define “elderly.” At the ripe, old age of 57, I am starting to get a little touchy about being thought of as elderly. I believe that age is relative. It’s all about how old we feel, not about an arbitrary date on a calendar.

The other day, I mentioned to a group of 30-somethings that I had recently gotten a new job. One particular dewy, young thing said to me, “Oh, you’re still working? Good for you!”

Good for me? Of course I’m still working. I’ve got a mortgage, car payments and all the other usual expenses. Social Security doesn’t kick in for another five – seven years, if it kicks in at all. Who really knows what the future holds?

During another function I recently attended, I was dancing to some pretty jazzy rock and roll.

When I finished, another easy, breezy youngster remarked, “How nice to see you still out there, having a good time!” Really? How old to I look, anyway? This time, I couldn’t restrain myself. “Yes,” I replied. “And I left my walker at home, too.”

It rankles me to be thought of as elderly. I’m thinking I have at least another 30 – 40 years, before I need to accept the mantle of advanced old age. My ADLs are all in tiptop shape, right now, thank you very much.

Whatever the case, it appears that robots will be part of the future of caring for our aging population. To me, that feels slightly Orwellian. Or is the reference I’m looking for the movie “Soylent Green?”

Maybe a robot caretaker doesn’t have to be creepy. Maybe it can be fun. I guess if I have to have a robot someday, I’d like it to look like Robert Downey Jr.

I’d also like it to be well programmed in French cuisine and Swedish massage. If it can uncork a bottle of red wine, so much the better.

Who said that all of my ADLs will have to be boring?

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