Dogs Can Help People Who Have Dementia

Dogs Can Help People Who Have Dementia

Posted 2018-04-08 by Marie Vonowfollow

Dogs are being used as companion animals for people with an increasing number of special needs. It has been found a suitable dog makes a great companion for a person with dementia and can help the person in numerous ways. The dog may be the pet of a person with dementia who is living in the community or a therapy dog that visits an aged care facility.

Why do dogs make such good companions for the person with dementia?
Dogs are good companions because they -
  • provide unconditional love
  • are non-judgemental
  • provide company
  • don't ask questions

  • What benefits have been noticed?
    Research and observation have shown the presence of a suitable dog may -
  • reduce anxiety
  • reduce agitation
  • lower blood pressure
  • encourage the person to be more physically active
  • motivate the person to eat more
  • encourage the person to become involved in conversation
  • increase the likelihood of recovery from a heart attack
  • provide general motivation

  • What type of dog is suitable?
    Retrievers, German Shepherds, Belgium Shepherds, collies and labradors tend to be suitable breeds but it is the temperament of the dog more than the breed which matters. A dog needs to be gentle and non threatening. The dog must also remain calm even if the person waves their arms, shouts out or acts irrationally.

    German Shepherds tend to be suitable Pixabay

    Some people in the early or middle stages of dementia are able to remain independent for longer if they have a suitable dog living with them.

    The presence of the dog may motivate the person to eat and get some exercise. A dog can be trained to open and shut doors, pick up dropped items, get the owner's medication or open a cupboard to remind the person to eat. Dogs can also learn to trigger an alarm should there be an emergency.

    A dog can be trained to lead the person back home if they go for a walk and the owner forgets the way. The dog may also be trained to stay with the person and bark repeatedly to attract attention if the person gets confused when out and refuses to return home.

    A trained dog can help lead a person who has dementia home if they become confused Pixabay

    A therapy dog that visits people in an aged care facility can benefit all the residents. A dog can be a comfort to a person with dementia, especially if the person has always had a dog.

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    240010 - 2023-07-18 04:47:32


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