My Special Partner

I only got around to watching the Golden Years mini-series’ episode about old age around the world Thursday night even though it dates back from April 13th, as I’d SkyPlus’ed it for watching later.

Primo Puel dollJapan used to rely on families to take care of the older generations, as traditionally, the eldest son would stay at home to take care of his parents and the family home. Today, younger people move towards the cities, leaving their parents to grow old and lonely. The solution to their loneliness came unexpectedly, as the older women adopted the Primo Puel dolls as company. The teddies were created as substitute boyfriends for girls who lived alone, and their behaviour is reminiscent of the Furbies, the electronic dolls of the late 90’s, but much much cuter. Even though it was sweet to see the old ladies hug, kiss and talk to the dolls, it seemed a bit sad as the Primos’ 280 words vocabulary limited conversation a bit…

I was fascinated by the more advanced dolls the National Institute of Advanced Science has been working on for the past 10 years. Their baby seal prototype is much more lifelike, with animated eyes and a warm body. “In clinical trials, Paro has been shown to reduce stress, depression and anxiety in elderly people, by offering them the chance to demonstrate affection… and receive a little back”, says the BBC article. So even though it can’t replace a good cup of green tea and a chat with friends, it seems those dolls can at least make their big empty houses feel a bit more homely and lived-in.

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