Follow
Share

I have over 30 years experience in training service dogs for mobility issues and am thinking about training for individuals with Alzheimer's. As a person who has always been fascinated by what dogs do for our general well being I find this idea to be a perfect fit. Am interested in anything anyone has time to share.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Goldens, my idea would be to join up with a good organization that is already doing this, but don't let that stop you from doing it on your own. You could most likely obtain grants and other support for your project.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I would guess that if you had a trained dog to stay with them you could put a small camera or tracking device on him and at least you would know where they are I would say put two one one him and one on dog just in case he removes his nothing can real keep him from roaming out of the house but a dog will try to delay him
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Sophie, your suggests are insightful and extremely helpful. I think it's an excellent idea to use service dogs for assistance in facilities, especially as they would be used if they were in fact in service as therapy or even military dogs.

The admins should be excited as well - another group with experience would train the dogs, they work only for food and companionship - no salary, no paperwork for deductions, no pension - what more could they ask for?
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

And the dog could be trained to intervene upon request with an agitated resident, to cuddle with one that was accepting of the dog. Maybe help keep the residents busy and entertained instead of calling their relatives non-stop in the evenings :-)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I would think that having one service dog per assisted living facility could be really useful; train it to listen for shouts for help from a resident who has fallen, to alert staff is a resident gets out a forbidden door; possibly lead a person back to their room if they get lost in the hallways. Walk in the hallway with the dog, the dog knows which room the person belongs to and the dog stands in front of the door to the room indicating which apartment is the resident's apartment. The resident could get exercise from brushing a dog. Dogs are stimulating; you don't know what they are going to do next. The dog would have to be trained to respect a distance around the walker/cane to avoid being a trip hazard. My Mom's ALF has 2 dogs in residence and all the residents recognize and smile at the dogs. The owners or staff let the dogs out into the large courtyard that is sealed off from the outside to potty and the staff clean up once a day outdoors. Works just fine.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Not what you have in mind but bloodhounds are good at finding people with dementia who wander off. Reason is that the bloodhound finds by scent, either on the ground or in the wind. The bloodhound does not care if the trail makes sense, only which way the trail goes. So the confused dementia patient sitting in a dark spot by a highway, the dog will find them. But has to be one trained for man trailing. We did this with our hound years ago and she was spectacular and very gentle with her found person. The need to be trained to not jump on the person with the joy of finding them. Facilities should make friends with the local bloodhound trailing club and invite the dogs over at some point, to investigate all the scents associated with old folks.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Wehave a lab named Honey and she is always the first to get attention. My husband, who has Alzheimers loves that dog immensly and pets her every day several times a day. He takes her for lots of walks, because he forgets he took her so takes her again, much to Honey's delight. He also feeds her several times a day because he forgets he fed her. Since she gets a low calorie dry dog food, that's not too bad. But he is much much better having that dog around. If she were to die, I would get another lab. We have had three labs. They really shed, though. But the love they give you is beyond and above. Honey waits for us in the driveway when we are gone. If we are both gone for a long time, she walks over to our daughter's house and opens the door and goes inside. (The door has a long handle). We don't lock our doors as we never have and we live out of the city limits. If a car goes by, Honey barks and barks. But she wouldn't hurt a flea. She is our greatest companion. marymember
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Here in Canada there are teams of pet therapy folks who visit nursing homes regularly. Residents are asked if they would like to see the dogs and if there's a "no" they move on. Many residents look forward to dog visits and save cookies and so on for them. The handler is always close by during visits.

I'd love to do it but my little one ... inherited from my mother ... is a neurotic little screamer and my big lab, 9, who's been with me 2 years from rescue, was badly abused - she's come a long way but still nevous of new places and people.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Thank all of you for your input, there are actually already some working dogs out there for people with dementia. Hugs to all.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I was thinking of dogs that visited people rather than ones who lived with those battling dementia....like the therapy dogs that visit nursing homes and hospitals. I would agree that caring for a pet would be too much for someone with dementia...it can be too much for someone who doesn't have dementia.

There's also the cost of vet care.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Sunnygirl, I was thinking the same thing when I read the original writer's post. Service dogs I think are wonderful in the right environment, but I doubt they would work with someone who has Alzheimer's/Dementia.... and who would wind up caring for the service dog and taking the dog for a walk would be the overworked/exhausted caregiver spouse, or grown child caregiver, or paid caregiver.

Majority of people with Alzheimer's/Dementia will go through a phase of being angry and hateful. The poor dog would be so confused thinking he/she did something wrong. Not a good fit. And not fair to the dog.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Sunny, the facility my father stayed at for rehab was excellent, but it lacked animal and music therapy. So whenever I was asked how things were going, I always praised the facility then casually mentioned the benefits of animal and music therapy. I also made that suggestion to the reps at one of the Area Agency on Aging seminars.

Fortunately, Dad hasn't needed rehab for a few years, but if he does, I'll ask again about the therapy. Maybe someday I'll be pleasantly surprised.

The admins and staff were always very helpful, and I think they're still finding their way through ancillary treatments and hopefully will bring in animals and music.

They did have meditation therapy as well as some others I've forgotten about now. They're on the right track!

And I think it's helpful to address potential issues so the OP can address as much as possible before committing to a venture.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Oh, that's just my take on it. I'm sure there are ways they can be utilized. He asked for our ideas about it. I think knowing of potential challenges is fair.

I think the therapy potential is amazing. I've been wanting to have a therapy animal visit my cousin in Memory Care. I'm going to discuss it with the director. She loves cats and I think a short visit by a cat would really brighten her day.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Sunnygirl, good insights into a potential opposite effect.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I think it's a fascinating idea. I can envision them being used to go into home and facilities to lover and warm the hearts of those with dementia, but to see them used in the actual day to day servide for dementia patients....well... someone who knows much more about dogs than I do might be able to chime in.

I love dogs and have had several as pets. I'm trying to envision it. My concern is for the animal. The dementia patient is confused and unpredictable. They could harm the dog, when they have no intention of doing so. And they would have no memory that they did it. They could also have delusions about the dog. Of course, there would have to be a person supervising at all times. I don't think it would be good to leave a dog alone with a dementia patient. They are not responsible enough to care for them or keep themselves safe, let alone a dog.

I think the idea offers much promise. Maybe others here would have more ideas on it than I do.

My experience with my loved one who had dementia was that the pet in the house had to go. My loved one was very obsessed with the pet and tried to contain it. She was highly stressed, acted odd and her behavior frightened her cat. The environment was highly stressful for the cat and she could not stay. It would have been wrong to make her live in that situation. I guess I would worry that the patient's behavior would be too stressful for a service dog.

I realize that not all dementia patients are agitated and anxious and perhaps a service animal would work for them. The thing about dementia though is that the symptoms can change daily. The dog would never know what to expect from the patient.

I wish you much success. Bless you for being so caring and giving and providing such a wonderful gift to people in need.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Good luck on doing that I am sure if there is a way to do it you will I don't train dogs I have had up to 8 pet dogs and they have trained me and themselves as Aden pack with no word s at all I understand most have the inntelegents of a 5 yr old humman and speaking as a mom and grand ma that's almost too smart in some country children that age help in the homeand gather food not sit buy the tvTV and play all day saying I am bord well back to our furry children they feel moods. and use there body energy to heal go head lay down act sick what dose he do rub him self on you lick you lay still on you he's sharing energy he looks in your eyes and with out words comforts you do you know what he want yes if your bonded dose he know what you need yes if trained to see the signs so good luck just remember the mind runs the body in all things and words are not need my husband can't speak or move and our dogs respond well to his needs
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

It's absolutely wonderful to read such a positive and inspiring post!

I haven't deal with Alzheimer's as much as others, but I do have some suggestions:

1. You might want to consider dementia generally as opposed to Alzheimer's patients specifically. Alz is but one in a range of dozens of possible dementias.

2. I've tried to find pet therapy for my father, who doesn't have dementia, but loves dogs. Neighbors bring their dogs over, but as yet I haven't found any to visit in homes. That would be my specific request - therapy dogs that make home visits.

3. Alternately, more therapy dog visits at general places where seniors congregate. I do understand there are costs and other issues of visiting people's homes, but from what I've determined most dogs are brought to AL or IL or perhaps SNFs, as well as to VA facilities. So someone who wants to have pet therapy has to either live or visit one of these facilities.

4. Have an assistant who can take photos of people with therapy dogs. We collect calendars of animals; just looking at the photos is calming. Depending on whether you can afford to provide small photo mementoes, that might be something folks can look at when the dogs aren't there. Alternately, relatives of patients might want to purchase a photo to leave with their loved one as a reminder of the dogs' affection and companionship.

5. I don't have any specific insights on training for Alz. I did see a program on use of therapy dogs trained to alert on certain medical events, as well as those working with veterans with PTSD. Looming medical events such as a seizure, or the feelings PTSD vets have are different from dementia, but the underlying training might be something that could offer insights on training for dementia.

Thank you for thinking of how you can help people with memory issues; I'm sure your 30 years of training will be so much appreciated by the patients and their families.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.