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Older couple enjoying their virtual pets together.

Virtual Pets: What They Are and How They’re Helping Seniors

Owning a pet can be enjoyable and even therapeutic to the owner but not everyone can own a pet due to their living situation, caring ability, or other factors. Seniors who live alone are among the people that would benefit the most from pet therapy. But some may find it difficult to care for a live pet.

Enter virtual pets.

What are Virtual Pets?

Virtual pets are a new phenomena that takes pet therapy to a new level. Virtual pets usually live on tablets and are complete with a camera, a microphone, a 24-hour remote human caregiver, and a portal that gives access to loved ones. The virtual pet not only provides companionship to seniors between visits from friends and family, but it also looks out for the individual by alerting emergency personnel when necessary, reminding them to take their medicine, and establishing a predetermined exercise routine. The virtual pet can even remind them to live a healthier lifestyle by taking vitamins, indulging in a colorful diet, getting outside more, and taking a safe, relaxing bath.

Senior woman using a tablet and smiling.

Why are Virtual Pets Beneficial?

Wrapping all of these services into one virtual pet gives you the loveable pet interaction with expert care on the other end.  To fend off loneliness and depression, the virtual pet can show you photos of friends and family and can even play voice recordings and read notes from loved ones that have been uploaded onto the portal. This helps family and friends stay connected in between visits, which is an added bonus for both parties.

In a case study by Element Care researching the benefits of virtual pets for seniors, it was found that loneliness was reduced for 54% of users and quality of life jumped 23%. Of course, we all still need love and care from friends, family, and professionals. But virtual pets can be an enjoyable supplement when the family member is alone.

Young nurse smiling and using computer in office.

From a healthcare perspective, virtual pets can reduce doctor and hospital visits by answering questions and providing expert care remotely, if appropriate. Seniors with virtual pets have 24-hour access to professional caregivers who are experienced in the field and who know how to handle healthcare concerns may they arise.

One of the leading companies in the caregiving virtual pet space, GeriJoy, is improving the lives of seniors everywhere by reminding them that they’re not alone through a strategic mix of compassionate company and healthy lifestyle reminders.

If you know of a someone who could benefit from the support of a virtual pet, reach out and let them know about their options. A virtual pet gives anyone in need of care the companionship and love of a pet without the responsibility of a live animal. From exercise reminders to 24-hour care, virtual pets are improving the lives of seniors and their families in more ways than one.