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I brought my mother home and she has been staying with me for over 3 months now. I witnessed some incidents that kind of suggest that she does have some mental issue (probably early signs of dementia)

I will list some of them
- Once she wanted to make a phone call to my sister. She keeps the list of phone numbers in a telephone diary. What she did was just wrote my sister's number down on a piece of paper and comes back telling me that she called my sister but she isn't answering the call.
- As I mentioned in my earlier post, her GPS has become corrupt. She never gets the place right now. We visited Portland, OR and she thought we were still in Charlotte
- Her learning capabilities and cognition also seems to be declining. She takes days before she learns something new.

Besides there are On and off memory lapses and she has become very quiet especially with new people she meets.

I am gradually starting to suspect that she does have early signs of dementia even though the diagnosis she went through 6 months ago didn't clearly determine that she has dementia. Any thoughts?

I was reading an article that pets (dogs) can help stimulate brain of older and/or dementing people. Is pet going to make a difference (slow the progression) or improve her brain health? She does love to own a dog and gets excited when I talk about it.

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My mother lives for her dog, this dog is her 4th daughter and probably most loved! My mother never allowed us to have dogs when we were growing up, she thought they were dirty and did not want them in the house. When her sister was ill and Mom was caring for her, my father's friend gave him a puppy and when Mom finally came home after her sister's death, she welcomed that puppy with open arms. I am sure it helped her deal with her sisters death, my father's death and I am sure it helps her now. She has a purpose for living.... the dog has basically become her child and I honestly think that if this dog died, so would she!

There can be drawbacks as well, at least in my Mom's case, she was overfeeding the dog and feeding it food that would make it sick, it has allergies and Mom loves the dog with food that makes them worse, so the dog has to be run back and forth to the vet. She was constantly worried about the dog, who slept in her room being covered with a blanket at night and she was up and down all night long. Now the dog sleeps in my room under my bed and up until I got Mom some medication 1 1/2 weeks ago, she was in my bedroom 20 times a night flipping on my light to check on the dog. The medication is now working and I actually get some sleep!

Overall I think the dog is wonderful for her and for me. It is more work for me but if it helps her and gives her a sense of purpose and something to love (more than her daughters) then I can live with it. I actually love the dog too, she is my shadow!

Make sure the dog you chose is best suited to you and your Mom's lifestyle. Our dog is a poodle/terrier mix so she basically doesn't shed, she has a pleasant personality, she loves to be loved, she is a lap dog which is perfect for Mom.

Note: Make sure you train the dog to move out of the way when someone is walking up to them. Our dog just lays, knowing you will step over her but this is NOT GOOD FOR MOM ANYMORE, it is dangerous.

Spread the love, adopt a dog!!!
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cg61, I too really enjoy watching my mom with our golden and my mom was never a dog person. But, she sure loves this one, and the dog has been great for me too!
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Growing up we always had a dog (or 2) underfoot so my Mom misses having a dog. My father died about 7 years ago and she has been talking about getting one ever since but she didn't want to walk it at night. She lives in an independent senior bldg. In the past when we would bring her to our house to visit she would spend most of the time with our dog. Recently she was diagnosed with Alzheimers, so we are moving her to our house....who knew the thing that would make her agree to move was our dog. He is a 9 year old goldendoodle and is the most gentle dog I have ever had. At 80 pounds his favorite places are cuddled up next to you in bed, sleeping on your feet or trying to get on your lap. Even when she doesn't remember my name she remembers his name. If you are considering adopting an older dog for a parent just remember the dog will ultimately be YOUR responsibility. It can be a great thing to introduce a pet to the equation but the animal's care is just as important as the patient's care. Dogs give unconditional love and don't care if you can remember what you said 2 minutes ago...I love watching the two of them together. He is becoming just as devoted to her as he is to us.
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Yes do adopt if you will be there daily to check that he is fed, watered, and walked. If your mom can handle that, then it is OK. You can get an adult rescue for your mom that will be settled, housebroken, etc. Shelties make great companions as they follow you everywhere. However be careful that she is stable on her feet. You wouldn't want her to take a fall. The adoption forms are lengthy and they check on you and your circumstances so you need to be sure that you will help to care for this animal. Shelties average life span is 14 years. So get one that is about 4 years old and it should be very healthy! And like others said, you also need to be ready to keep the dog yourself if mom decides she doesn't want it a couple of months from now. Although I can't imagine that happening. Dogs can give so much more love back than we can hand out. Shelties are intelligent and wonderful pets. To get one just go on Sheltie Rescue and a state will pop up for you. You can go from there. I have three shelties and they are wonderful dogs!
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I'd get a pet only if you were willing and able to take care of it. I think pets can be helpful whether the patient has dementia or not just to have someone to talk to. My MIL doesn't want to fool with a pet at all. It's something else to take care of for her. But she is lonely. I live right by her and twice a day I bring her meds to her. My cats follow me up the hill to her house and she lets them come in. She likes my cats. One cat is still kind of skittish around her and rarely lets her pet her but she comes in her house anyway and noses around. The other cat is constantly rubbing against her legs and if my MIL is walking around outside that cat follows her around. I do worry that the cat is going to trip her up one day, that's my only concern.

As long as she's ok with it, I don't mind them going to visit. My skittish cat even went up there one time and meowed at the door. My MIL let her come in and the cat visited for a while, then went back outside. She's talked about letting the skittish cat stay with her at night when it gets cold because that cat is a good mouse catcher. For my part I just make sure I keep flea medicine on the cats so she doesn't end up with a flea problem. So, IMO, pets can be helpful in the right circumstances.
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I adopted a shelter dog last summer, and he has mostly been a blessing for us. My husband has "sundowning" from Parkinson's Disease, but he takes the dog out walking every morning, so they both get exercise. They also play and sit together outside. I do agree, though, that adopting a pet is a lifetime decision for that animal, and if you can't make that commitment, you shouldn't adopt. A lot of nursing homes and even hospitals allow therapy dogs. That might be a better option if you are unable to care for a pet full-time.
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My mother had a miniature pinscher from rescue. When it passed away she desperately wanted another but couldn't manage it so she adopted a cat, Pixie. When I moved in with my big dog and 3 cats to care for her four years ago she still longed for another dog and I thought what the heck, it would always have a home with me, so along came Sue, probably a minpin x jack russell terrorist.

My mother went into a NH a year ago and her house was sold. Sue and Pixie now live with me, my 3 cats and a 7 year old black lab girl (from rescue in April) on 2 acres in the country. An old chocolate lab girl, a puppy mill throw away, will be joining us as soon as she's well enough to travel. Like so many people, to us, the animals are family.
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I agree with what has been said and getting a pet is a life commitment. My neighbour got their child a dog for Christmas, awful idea, they had no idea what they were going to have to do as a dog steward. I got so aggravated with them, is like they thought he was a stuffed toy, but he is not, and they got rid of him when he proved to be more inconvenient than a stuffed toy. If you get a pet, get a pet with the full knowledge that you will be responsible for his care, whether she is there or not, if you can't commit to this forget it, it is only fair to the pet. If you can commit it is wonderful, they will sit for hours on end listening to the same story over and over, but make sure that the pet you choose does like your mother, some may or may not, so there is a lot to consider here. If you can commit, take your mother to the shelter and have her introduced to many pets, the right fit will present itself. Just make sure you realize you are responsible for this little spirits wellbeing.
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The problem with my mom having dementia and being a pet owner...she over feed her dog. It can go both ways. They need supervision so the animal is well care for. The people involved in the care need to have the time to give to the animal and be an animal lover or the pet will suffer. I do not approve of people getting a pet and them abandoning it to the pound...animals have emotions and it really messes them up emotionally when switched from one owner to another. There has to be stability just like with raising a child for the animal to be a good pet. If you are not willing to put the time in to the pet, the result will disappoint you and you end up blaming the animal.
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I have seen the results of pet owner dementia. The owners forget to let them out and forget to feed them and often trip over them. Not a good idea.
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If I could afford to, I would have my mom's dog trained to be a therapy dog. She loves the attention from people but she is hyper and I have concerns about her jumping up on the elderly residents so I do have to keep the leash tight with little range of motion when I bring her in to visit.
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check to see if there is a rescue organization in your area of the breed you want. This golden retriever we got is absolutely wonderful with mom got her from golden retriever rescue. She doesn't bark except when the three little dogs across the fence get barking. Ous shows off her big bark and little dogs barking stops.
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We adopted the two that we have. They were already potty trained which is a great help. They still need discipline but we love them much.

Good luck in your decision.
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Thanks for being insightful.
I was thinking if I could adopt a older, already trained dog. And I do not intend to leave the dog into the shelter, as much as I care for my mother I care for the pet too since they are living beings and have every right to their lives.
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when you hire a caregiver you need to make sure that the caregiver is aware of the fact that they will be responsible for the pet. Who will train it? Who will make sure that it goes outside to go to the bathroom when it needs to. Dogs don't just train themselves. Someone needs to spend the time and energy to make sure that the dog is well disciplined otherwise you are going to have a dog that pees all over the house, doesn't listen and is more of a nuisance than a help. Then the poor dog will be given away because it is a "bad" dog when it wasn't the dogs fault. It is the lack of discipline.

Please don't take this decision lightly. Especially if you aren't willing to take the dog when your mom is no longer able to take care of it.
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I completely agree with JesseBelle.
Bringing a pet into the home is a lifetime (for the pet) commitment. It isn't something that if you bring the pet into the home and it doesn't improve your mom's condition then you turn around and leave the poor pet in a shelter to be killed (and believe me over 80% left at shelters are killed, I know).
If you do bring a pet into your home, bring the pet into YOUR home, as your pet. Then if your mom becomes attached to the pet and loves it all the better. But, remember if your mother has to go into a NH, that the pet will stay with you and not go into the NH with your mother. This is not a light decision, unless you are a pet lover as I am.

I have two Bichons. My mom always had a cat in her house and we found a home for the cat when we moved my mom here. She has become attached to my little guys and they enjoy having another person around. The do get underfoot at times and I have to make sure that they don't trip her up when she walks (she has a bad knee). I am happy that they have taken to each other and I know that they make her happy. But, they are our dogs and will always be our dogs.
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I will share the experience my mother undergoes.
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Thanks for all the feedback....
@julidu - My mother does have loving for pets for a very long time. However, I have always procrastinated due to the responsibility it comes up. I plan to arrange a full time caregiver for her so the pet will have someone to fall back upon.
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The memory care unit my mom lives in has a resident dog. He is older and a big dog, but very gentle. My mother has a small poodle (13lbs.) who is now living with me. Mom was allowed to have her there with her, but the little dog barks at every noise and would wake up other residents. A couple of other residents have cats there. I take my mom's dog to visit, most residents love to see her, mom loves the attention she gets from the others when I bring in her dog. There is one woman resident who will tell me she does not want the dog around her and I respect that. She will ask me questions about the dog, she doesn't want the dog to come close. The other residents light up when I bring her in, they want to pet her, talk to her.

I suggest that if you consider a dog, the responsibilities include not the just of obvious of food and water....some dogs require regular grooming either their fur regularly or getting their fur cut like my mom's poodle. Dogs are like a child...they need attention and exercise, vet bills for vaccines,etc. Cleaning up the yard after them. I would recommend a dog that has been potty trained, one that is low grooming maintenance, look for one that has been socialized around more than one adult at a time. The rewards are great!! They will love you unconditionally, be a faithful loyal companion, and entertain you to your hearts content.
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I think animals are so good for someone with dementia, but I agree 100% with Jessebelle you are basically going to be responsible for the pet, especially if your mother has to be placed down the line. I have an older female doberman who basically became my mothers dog when she moved in with me. She could sense something with my mom because she would never leave her side and my mother loved it. This dog slept with me for years and I would wake up in the middle of the night and find her in my mothers bed with her. She was a true angel for my mother but she also grieved her when my mother had to be placed. I took her to the first nursing home she was in to visit and my mom loved it. In the new memory center I am reluctant to take her because of her size. She is the kindest , sweetest dog but I would not want to scare the residents who are more progressed.. It sounds like you are dealing with dementia for sure. A pet scan is a good test to find out what type. Good luck
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We added a 6 year old golden retriever to our household about 3 months ago. Thought about a cat, but mom loves to touch and pet and talk so we decided a cat would be too finicky. What a blessing this dog has been! Should have done it sooner. She will sit with mom in the morning while she drinks her tea, petting her and talking to her constantly. And the dog loves it as well! And mom was never a dog person, but I certainly would not have gotten a puppy, too many training issues.
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I would approach adopting a pet cautiously. Adopting a pet is a commitment to the animal. Someone has to make sure it has a good home and is cared for. And someone needs to be able to take responsibility for the pet if your mother is no longer able to. A pet becomes a new family member who needs a caregiver itself. If you can provide a good home for it, I would say it is worth a try. OTOH, if you approach it thinking that if it doesn't work out, you can just get rid of the pet, I would say not to consider adoption.

And, yes, I am one of those pesky animal-rights people.
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I think it will definitely help. It will give her something to focus on and keep her in the present. If she is able to take care of the dog it will make her feel useful. Another thing that helps is doing simple word puzzles and history trivia. I used to do that at a nursing home I volunteered at and it kept the residents sharp.
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I've read many different types of "therapy" and have tried many. I think the best thing to do is trial and error. Does your mother have a history of loving pets? Is there someone to help take care of the pet? Does someone in the family have a pet you could borrow for a few days to test the situation?

With my MIL I learned to try many different things a few weeks a part. I made her a daily schedule literally down to watching shows, eating meals, medications and who to call when. She responded (after a week) very good. She would check off each thing as she did it. When I had to add something new, I made it about both of us learning something new and gave her tasks/ jobs that made her feel she was in control.

I tried other things rewarding positive behavior, buying new things that were supposed to be better - they didn't work. Talking to her neurologist about it helped a lot. Keep everything in simple 1, 2 step directions.
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