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My mom is blind, and has Alzheimer's. she is 85 and needs a walker to ambulate. She lives with my dad (89) in Florida who refuses to move either near one of his 3 daughters or to an adult facility. He insists that he can take care of mom with limited help, but frankly, it''s not working for either one of them! I wondered if a guide dog would help her (and him). She loves dogs and the relationship would be so great for her! Also, she could possibly take a daily walk around the block, something dad refuses to do. They have been depressed and stuck, a gentle animal trained ti assist mom could be a life-changer!
Thanks,
Jill

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Thank you all for replying to my question. Your answers were very helpful!
Jill
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It takes about two years of training both the person and the dog at a cost of around $15,000-$20,000. The individual needs to remember to feed and let the dog out to poo in addition to handling and remembering the right commands. I don't think it will work for them.
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I know there is an agency that provides therapy dogs for people with Special needs- autism, Down's syndrome ... I looked on the site and it talked about how this one child would self stim (flap his arms when anxious) and how the Mom had to always place a gentle hand on his back until he calmed down---well they got this therapy dog that puts his paw on him when he starts to flap and he calms down--I just burst into tears reading that!! It was so sweet! It really helped him. But the parents of the children do all the caregiving for the dogs. Animals can be a lot of work. I don't know if your Dad or Mom would want to take that on.

That being said my Mom would wither without her dog. She has always had a love for dogs and relies so much on hers for comfort. My Dad has said after this one she cannot get another but he has said that for years and years--and she always seems to be able to come home with one from the shelter! (she gets old dogs) Of course now she cannot get around by herself but I still think my Dad would get another one for her.
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To actually get a seeing eye or guide dog, the individual has to go through a special training program, which might not work out for someone with a significant degree of dementia. Here is an example of one program's requirements: seeingeye, and another here: guidedogsofamerica . It might be hard to manage a dog harness and a walker at the same time too. Sometimes people are suprised to learn that a relatively small percentage of blind but otherwise non-disabled people actually find a guide dog fits into their life - there is a lot of care involved and a lot for them to learn no matter how well-trained the dog might be. For those individuals, even if they are only 5 or 10% of all blind people, the dog may be a huge benefit that they would never want to be without.

There are organizations that do place therapy or service dogs and you go through an application process for that too, but it may not be as strenuous and might be a better possibility. Or, just adopting a dog that is mild-tempered and not too hard to care for might be a blessing too. Is there any home health they might accept, maybe someone who could be persuaded to help her do the walk around the block as part of a prescribed exercise program? There might be rules for agencies that require all services to be performed within the home, but maybe someone you hired privately could do that. I wonder also if there is anyone that does therapy animal visits at homes, as they might do in facilities - you could find the local therapy dog organizations and ask. This is not a bad idea and probably worth pursuing even if the conventional channels would not have anything to offer.
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I don't know, but you need to consider if they are capable of taking care of a dog, too? I would anticipate a guide dog to at least be mid-sized. A young dog may outlive your parents, and then where will it go? Where will it go in six months if they decide they don't like it? My parents are huge animal lovers. Their two dogs both died of old age last year. At first I thought it would be good for them to get another dog. Now, my dad has been diagnozed with ALZ and I am so glad we did not talk them into getting another dog. They can barely take care of themselves. The added stress of daily care for an animal would put them over the top!
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