We are now well into a new year and back on track from the holiday season. The new year often sparks a sense of hope that life is moving forward and better days are coming. Unfortunately, the world is still facing the COVID-19 pandemic, so this new year started off a little differently for everyone. 

For many, life has somewhat turned back towards normalcy aside from consistent mask-wearing and frequent COVID tests with every cough. However, for those living in long-term care facilities, pure isolation has become the new “normal.” 

It’s easy to forget about these facilities when we’re living a mostly normal life on the outside, especially if we do not have loved ones in a facility. Days and even weeks go by before we have a passing thought about calling a loved one we haven’t heard from in far too long. Routine takes over, and before we know it, our friends and family have fallen through the cracks. 

Imagine being a patient in this position where the phone hasn’t rung in weeks, and visitors haven’t stopped by in months or even years. Can you imagine the amount of loneliness and depression this could add to an already dismal situation?

Don’t let your loved ones in facilities fall through the cracks. Send an email, pick up the phone, and visit, if possible (while following CDC guidelines). You can also consider this unconventional gift.  

This fresh, unique gift idea might help make a change and lift patients’ spirits amidst these lonely times: An animatronic pet. 

Connection and Alleviating Loneliness

Animals, in general, have been proven to provide patients of all kinds with health benefits from joy and laughter to lower blood pressure. These animatronic pets (also called robotic pets) mimic animals’ actions with sounds and movements, letting the patient feel as if a real animal is present. 

These pets give patients something to look forward to and a companion to keep them company during trying times. 

Health Benefits

Loneliness is debilitating beyond measure and will exacerbate a patient’s illness. It can speed up the decline in cognitive functions and severely impair mood altogether. Humans are social creatures, and having a little friend around at all times – even a robotic friend – will decrease the negative impact of being in isolation for extended periods.  

These pets are also cognitively stimulating for patients and provide enough joy and motivation for the patient to continue on a path of proper care and progress. 


Zero Mess and No Allergic Reactions

Patients in long-term health facilities are typically at a much higher risk for various illnesses, so having pets around that can carry diseases and create messes full of bacteria is not an ideal solution to loneliness. 

Here is what’s great about the animatronic pets: they are artificial, spread no diseases, never shed, and they won’t create messes or tear things up. 

Not only will a robotic therapy pet provide hope for a patient, but it will also be harmless and not cause headaches for patients and staff. 


An animatronic pet might not be your first choice of a gift to send to your loved one in a long-term care facility, but it just might make a massive difference. Give the gift of a clean, comfy companion and rescue a patient from this pesky pandemic loneliness. 


“Animatronic Companion Pets + Dementia Care.” Hope Hospice and Health Services, 15 Jan. 2021, hopehospice.com/blog/hope-hospice-animatronic-pet-program-for-dementia-care/. 

Author Carly Commiato headshot

About the Author

Carly Commiato is currently teaching junior high at a small town district. She has a degree in Exercise Physiology and an ACSM Exercise Physiologist (EP-C) Certification. In her spare time, Carly enjoys babysitting for her friends and spending time outdoors.