A caring son who is worried about his aging father surprises him with a gift – a robot companion that will cook his meals, clean the house and coordinate activities. Could such a scene be a modern reality or a science fiction fantasy?

The summer 2012 film Robot & Frank depicts just such a storyline. Although Frank Langella’s senior citizen character eventually accepts and appreciates the benefits of the robot, his initial concern “that thing’s going to kill me in my sleep,” epitomizes a common fear.

Despite the fact that engineers around the world are focusing on developing robotic caregivers and companions, the elderly themselves have not yet embraced this modern technology.

According to Slate, one in five Americans will be 65 or older by 2030 and “half of those over 85 require assistance in everyday activities.” Who will care for all these people?

The “Father of Robotics,” physicist, engineer and entrepreneur, Joseph Engelberger, pointed out to BBC News that “human help is expensive. Robots should cost the same as a Mercedes and could be rented out. That would be a bargain compared to paying $600 a week for help.”

Like the United States, Japan has a reputation for developing cutting-edge technology as well as an aging population and according to BBC News, the Japanese government “has earmarked 7.6bn yen ($93 million) to get these more prosaic drones and lifters into Japanese homes, to commercialize simple home-use robots and to develop safety technologies and standards, which have been major issues” as part of a “Home-use Robot Practical Application Project.”

While advances in technology may make a robotic caregiver a reality in the near future, it may be another generation before senior citizens are comfortable with the concept of non-human nursing and companionship.

If the time has come when you or a family member can no longer maintain an independent lifestyle, please contact ElderLink to learn about senior care services and facilities available throughout California.