Ryan is a companion robot, designed to talk to and comfort seniors with dementia, Alzheimer's and depression.

Hayley Sanchez/CPR News

At a senior living community in Lakewood, there's a new presence cracking jokes and striking up conversations with the residents. It's a robot, and her name is Ryan.

The bot is designed to complement human companionship, filling in gaps created by the shortage of caretakers for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer's and depression. Ryan was created by Mohammad Mahoor, a professor of computer engineering at the University of Denver.

Mahoor and Sarah Schoeder, the wellness director at Eaton Senior Communities, talked to Colorado Matters about the benefits Ryan has had on senior citizens there. Besides holding conversations, the robot can also remind people to take their medication and attend community events, as well as play cognitive games.