A social robotics system to help individuals with Alzheimer's
Socially-Assistive Robots for Alzheimer's (SARA)
SARA enhances the connectedness, caregiving, well-being, and quality of life for adults with early- to middle-stage Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s related dementias, and their caregivers.
According to NIH experts, more than 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, an irreversible and progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, eventually impairing the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks.
“Individuals with Alzheimer’s, even the early stages, often experience loneliness and social isolation – so do their caregivers. SARA leverages the latest in social robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) and is designed to increase care and quality of life and reduce social isolation for this population.”
Scientist at Charles River Analytics
SARA aims to mitigate loneliness through proactive, embodied social interactions that connect individuals more closely with family, friends, and the community—both directly and through social media—and offers assistance by:
- Providing reminders and prompting questions to answer for everyday information that is easily forgotten by patients
- Conveying health regimens for meals, exercise, and other daily living tasks
- Enabling remote monitoring by caregivers
To create SARA, we are taking a co-creation approach by directly involving individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers in the design process through focus groups and interviews. Our development process for SARA focuses on utility, usability, accessibility, and acceptability for our target population to help facilitate adoption and improved health outcomes. In addition to software, this includes hardware augmentations to improve interaction.
SARA is built on Hap, our AI-based architecture that enables engaging, believable, and effective interactions. SARA extends our research and development on healthcare support and training over the last decade. Since 2009, we have announced multiple medical contract awards, including surgical training systems, a smoking cessation system, and AI-enabled patient support online communities.
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43AG066288. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.