Residents at Caring House Receive Lifelike Robotic Pets

Emma Hughes
Gila River Indian News



On March 8, residents at Gila River Health Care’s Caring House Skilled Nursing Facility received some unique gifts from the Gila River Health Care’s Behavioral Health Services and the Caring House’s Recreation Therapy Department staff, who delivered 45 robotic pets to the residents at the Caring House.


The life-like animals were created by Ageless Innovation, a company that has designed “Joy for All Companion Pets” specifically for elder loved ones. The battery-operated pets feature realistic fur, sounds and motions that provide a low maintenance alternative to the real pets, while offering comfort and companionship.


Priscilla Foote, Chief Behavioral Health Officer discussed the effects of robotic pets through studies and research, finding that individuals who had daily interactions with the robotic pet seemed to improve in their mental well-being. “The pets are a way to provide interaction and comfort when people might be feeling isolated or lonely,” said Foote.   


With more isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of the pets have increased. GRHC Behavioral Health Services was able to purchase thirty dogs and fifteen cats from Joy for All with grant dollars received from the Gila River Indian Community’s Tobacco Tax and Health Care Fund. 


“They were a tremendous hit! Bringing forth smiles and laughter to our residents,” said Alicia Gonzales, Activity Director for the Caring House, “you could hear the sounds of meowing cats and barking dogs everywhere.” She said they have already begun to see how happy the elders are with their new pets, “It was truly an amazing opportunity to be part of this experience, presenting something to our residents that I’m sure they will be forever grateful.”