As we approach a time in our lives when many of us care for or watch over an elderly parent or relative, one of the hardest diagnoses to receive is a diagnosis of dementia. Often confused with Alzheimer’s, dementia is not a disease. Dementia is a set of symptoms that typically includes loss of recent memory or judgment or language difficulty. While Alzheimer’s does cause dementia, there are other disorders that contribute to its symptoms such as vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Dealing with someone who has dementia is heartbreaking and extremely difficult—for the individual, as well as the caregiver. But a research program out of Scotland, The Dementia Dog aims to change that. The program, which won a competition from the UK Design Council and the Department of Health to develop new ideas in care, proves that dogs do make a difference in quality of life care for people with dementia.
These “dementia dogs” act as guide dogs to help the with their daily activities, medication schedule and to keep them engaged and active. Routine is what quickly falls apart for people with dementia and these dogs are especially trained to keep the person they’re paired with to stick to their daily program. The biggest bonus is the constant companionship and emotional benefits patients get from being with the canines.
Currently operating in the UK only, we hope the program is able to expand its mission to bring joy and quality of life care to individuals who suffer from dementia around the world.
Click here to see the first dementia dogs in action.