Does anyone have information about service dogs and dementia/Alzheimers patients? - AgingCare.com

Does anyone have information about service dogs and dementia/Alzheimers patients?

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I have read one , and only one article about service dogs and Alzheimers patients. Having been a dog person all my life I am quite convinced there will be a period of time between needing constant care and just being anxious about leaving a person with Alzheimers alone. I think a service dog would be able to fill this gap but I need to have information from more than one source. Any people with experience out there?

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I could see a companion animal or therapy dog being a benefit to someone with dementia, but an actual service dog doesn't seem a good fit. Every variety of service dog I've ever heard of relies on its owner to be able to understand the dog's signs and signals and/or understand and act upon pretty extensive training in handling the dog.
Service dogs are in short supply and high demand. They should go to those who can use them to lead productive lives.
Therapy animals, on the other hand, could be ideal for someone with dementia. I think they'd have to 'visit' rather than live with someone because you couldn't leave the dog's well-being dependent upon someone who may not be able to reliably manage to feed and care for them.
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Maybe a service dog isn't the answer but a therapy dog is fabulous for everyone. I knew that I wanted to have a therapy dog in my classroom so I found a little runt (pug) who ended up being an amazing therapy dog (Therapy Dogs International) for my emotionally disturbed students. When mil moved in, I kept my dog home and my mil immediately feel in love. Between one of my cats picking her lap as a new lounging place and the dog, it keeps mother perhaps just a bit happier, calmer and loved!
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Unless the one with dementia lives with their family, I would not recommend any type of dog. The dog would have to be considered a family pet and not sole owner of the elderly person. There are many senior dogs, 5 years and older, that desperately need adoption from shelters. Some have a program called seniors for seniors that are at low cost or for free. I can see a dog for companionship for dementia, but not a service dog.
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While not a service dog, we decided to get a Golden Retriever from a rescue shelter. This dig has been a blessing and mom loves having her to pet and talk to all the time. And the best thing is the dog loves it too. She also provides a break for caregivers when mom is focused on the dog.

Though I would never leave the dog alone with mom, she would most likely tend to over feed or let the dog out. She has truly been a blessing. I never would have gotten a puppy though, it had to be a well mannered older dog.
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From what I experienced with my Mom toward the end, the only hope for severe dementia or Alzheimer's is either stem cell research or some miracle drugs. Service dogs aren't the answer.
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Service dogs are VERY expensive, $15K and up, it's a two year long training process that involves training the owner. An Alzheimer's patient will not be able to remember the details. For example, a seizure dog will alert the owner minutes before onset. The owner then takes medication. I don't see where the Alzheimer patient will be able to interact reliably with the dog.
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Taking care of my husband (later stage Alzheimer's) is like taking care of a small child (only harder sometimes) - and I can't imagine leaving a small child alone with a service dog, no matter how trained they are. Maybe you are referring to early stages, which might be doable. It also may be why there aren't many articles about this - because it may not be a practical answer for dementia/Alzheimer's patients. Anyway, just my thoughts . . .
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If you Google "service animals dementia" you will find a number of interesting results. They may be big on claims and relatively short on research but there is some available information. There are several organizations which are claiming to train dogs to assist those with dementia and or other neurological conditions.
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this is the one and only article I have seen. Not enough information to make any conclusion.
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Hello Butchie,

Our Editor wrote an article recently regarding service dogs for Alzheimer's. Please see the link attached. I hope you find the information you are looking for here.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/guide-dogs-for-people-with-alzheimers-153469.htm

Warm regards,
Melissa R.
The AgingCare.com Team
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