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Guide Dogs for Alzheimer's Patients and Caregivers

  • Date: 2009/01/01 (Rev: 2012/09/20) Alex Jensen
  • Synopsis : Using dogs for Alzheimers patients where dogs are trained to listen to the patient and act when particular words are stated.

Main Document

The use of dogs to assist people in need has been a time tested methodology for years. The benefits are numerous and clear. A movement is now underway to extend the use of guide dogs to assist patients with Alzheimer's and their caregivers as well.

The use of dogs to assist people in need has been a time tested methodology for years. The benefits are numerous and clear. A movement is now underway to extend the use of guide dogs to assist patients with Alzheimer's and their caregivers as well.

Guide dogs have been a huge hit from just about any perspective. They provide the practical service of, well, guiding people who have physical deficiencies. That being said, they perform an important secondary function as well.

Dogs are social creatures.

When used as guide dogs, they spur on those using them to also be social and interact with both the pup and those people in the surrounding area. This social contact leads to a sense of well being.

Alzheimer's is a horrific affliction, the veritable plague of the 21st century. It and other forms of dementia slowly deprive the person in question of both their mental functions and their memories.

As the disease progresses, two secondary problems occur.

The first is forgetfulness. A person out on a walk or just out of the house might forget how to get back to it. This is one of the earlier stages of the disease.

As we move further through the stages of the disease, the person in question may begin wondering around and getting lost. They may get up in the middle of the night and walk off down the road.

Obviously, both situations are problematic.

The safety issues alone are staggering. Just as important, the person responsible for the patient has to deal with the constant worry of watching the afflicted person. Alzheimer's guide dogs can provide a lot of assistance in both of these situations.

Using dogs for Alzheimer's patients is really an idea in its infancy.

There are two programs being tried and each has its own focus. The first is out of Israel where dogs are trained to listen to the patient and do certain things when particular words are stated. For instance, the use of the word "home" would result in the dog guiding the person home from wherever they are at that point in time.

The secondary approach is not so much to help the patient as the caregiver.

The dog is taught to monitor the patient around the clock. If the person gets up and leaves the defined space, usually a home, the dog will let the caregiver know by giving it a particular signal.

Both of these programs are still in being developed, but they hold promise. If you are caring for a person suffering from dementia, take a look at the dog guide programs is definitely worth your time.

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