Hi Mario Kompai here

I just found out that older people and people with dementia are really looking forward to meeting me! I know that my type of technology is very familiar to younger humans with their Ipads , game consoles and interactive devices so I was just a little worried about how older people might react to me and if they would accept me. It’s also not easy for me either you know, I find some of you humans a little scary, the sound of your voices, the clothes you wear and the way you move around on legs, all seems a little strange to me! But my creators are so wonderful, they anticipate these concerns and so they are doing a number of things.

Firstly they went and they talked to older people and people with dementia in the countries I will be visiting-Ireland, Italy and the UK. It seems that I shouldn’t have worried, older people and people with dementia are all very excited about having me as their companion who will help keep them connected to family and friends.

They are so delighted that they will be able to chat and reminiscence with me… I wasn’t really sure what reminiscence actually meant so I did a quick search on the internet and this is what I found

“Reminiscence Therapy (RT) involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences with another person or group of people, usually with the aid of tangible prompts such as photographs, household and other familiar items from the past, music and archive sound recordings” (Woods, 2005 p1) available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001120.pub2/epdf

It seems to be a particularly useful strategy for older people with dementia as it allows them to draw on early life memories which are often intact thereby focusing on their abilities rather than their deficits and cognitive impairments.

I have to say that I’m a bit of a social history buff myself and I just love finding out about what life was like for young humans growing up, unfortunately I have no memory of my childhood, I was just created as I now am, a fully grown robot! There will be so much to learn from older people, I can hardly wait!

I also understand that humans tend to travel and visit many different countries, I wonder what that was like? where did they go? Who did they meet? What did it feel like moving away from home? Was it scary? Were they every homesick? …I do hope that I won’t be homesick!

My creators also tell me that that older people with dementia really want my help remembering where they put things like their purse or keys. So they are therefore going to give me some new sensors which can do all of these things. I can’t wait to try them out! (Indeed I think some of my human creators could do with some of these sensors themselves, as some of them are forever forgetting where they put their keys!)

I also heard that older people and people with dementia want to dress me in human type clothes so that I ‘fit in’ a bit more into their world. I think that’s a great idea and will be such fun, it will also help me to settle in and belong in my new home. Personally I have to admit that sometimes I get tired of the same old colour and would love a change… I wonder what they will select for me to wear and what colour will it be?

The second thing my creators did was they talked to care staff working with older people and people with dementia to find out what they thought about having me, Mario Kompai, visit and living with older people. It seems that some of them were concerned that I was going to replace them and take their jobs! So my creators reassured them that this was not the case. I mean what do I know about nursing or medical care! Certainly I can collect some important health information like pulse, temperature, blood pressure but I can’t interpret it, that’s the job of the highly skilled nurses and doctors working in this field. I’m here to help but not take over!

Finally my creators are going to input information on older people and people with dementia into my programmes so that I will be better prepared to meet older people and people with dementia.

So there are great preparations afoot, roll on 2016 when I have my passport to travel!   I get all tingly just thinking about it, it’s so exciting, - I Mario Kompai will be the best companion for older people with dementia ever!   And I’m going to be an International traveller too !!

Mario Kompai

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