You may have read several articles about how pets, including dogs, are beneficial for those human friends needing long-term health care, especially dementia.
More and more people worldwide have Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. As the world gets older, more people will need supervision due to memory loss or physical help with daily activities due to an illness or mobility problems.
The Dementia Dog Project is one example of how dogs are helping their human friends. The project is an innovative partnership project with Alzheimer Scotland, and the project supports families who have a loved one living with dementia. They help match families with a helpful furry friend.
Dogs Provide Support
The Let's Talk Dementia Blog says that a trained dog can provide the proper support for a person with dementia by prompting them for their daily activities, including eating, taking medication, exercise, socialization, and sleeping patterns.
Uno – a ‘Dementia Dog’
Spouses have the confidence to leave home for short periods of time knowing the trained dementia dog is watching. Combined with professional and semi-professional caregivers, electronic monitoring, and other measures, a person with dementia can remain in their home longer and enjoy a better quality of life.
These trained therapy dogs are now being used for individuals at home with dementia and in some long-term care facilities. These animals have helped with dementia symptoms and assist in alleviating anxiety, aggression, depression, and loneliness.
Dogs Reduce Behavioral Problems
Studies have indicated a reduction in behavioral problems when a trained dog is placed with a person with dementia. However, the care recipient is not the only one that benefits. Caregivers, both professional and family, are more relaxed with the dog as part of the care solution.
"Almost as important as the direct services provided by these assistance dogs, like all of other therapy dogs, these animals also provide companionship and friendship for their owner. They create a psychological anchor to reality by maintaining a meaningful daily routine which thus adds to the quality of life. The very fact that the dogs must be walked every day promotes exercise for the patient and encourages social interaction between the dementia sufferer and other people," said Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc, FRSC, writing in Psychology Today.
Dogs - A Great Companion for Someone with Dementia
In June 2010, Rick Phelps, at age 59, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. A story on the Animal Health Foundation says that his 14-month-old German Shepherd exemplifies how a canine companion can be essential for anyone with early- to mid-stage dementia.
"This dog has changed everything," he said. "It's a psychological thing; I know it is. He hasn't cured me of this disease, but it just works," Phelps said.
These dogs are trained to help those with dementia; however, humans must still take care of them.
Older people with limitations can have difficulty providing the right care for a pet.
Be Sure the Dog Can Be Cared for Properly
Dr. Michelle Radwanski, a nationally known veterinarian at Argonne Animal Hospital in Lemont, Illinois, encourages a family to consider their ability to take care of the dog depending on their limitations.
A trained therapy dog might be great for the care recipient but be sure someone can care for the dog's needs.
More people are aware that dementia is more common today with older demographics worldwide. People live longer than ever before but with longevity comes problems with changing health and other aging problems requiring help with daily activities, including supervision due to memory loss.
Longevity Creates Challenges
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about half of us will need long-term health care. Being prepared reduces the stress and anxiety otherwise placed on our families.
In the United States, health insurance and Medicare pay little or nothing toward most long-term health care. Medicaid will only pay if you have little or no income and assets. Adult children are often put into the role of being a caregiver despite being untrained and unprepared for this stressful and demanding role.
LTC Insurance Can Ease Family Stress
Long-Term Care Insurance can be very helpful in addressing the costs and burdens of aging. However, you cannot purchase LTC Insurance if you have poor health. Long-Term Care Insurance is best if bought in your 40s or 50s when you still enjoy relatively decent health.
The cost of care services continues to grow every year. Rising demand for care services and labor shortages have made this an even bigger problem, and costs continue to get even higher.
These long-term health care costs vary depending on the type of care and where you live. For example, in Dayton, Ohio, in-home is averaging around $4400 a month based on a 44 hour week. However, the same amount of care in 25 years is expected to average well over $10,000 a month - Ohio Long-Term Care | LTC News.
Having the policy to access quality care, protect assets, and reduce family stress is essential to an overall retirement plan. Dogs can help caregivers and families in many ways, even if you don't have dementia but other care needs.
Being prepared eases the family burden. Aging does happen, and being prepared for changing health and longevity will make it easier for everyone.
Seek help from a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you shop the many companies and navigate the available options - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
Learn More About Trained Therapy Dogs for Dementia
If you want to learn more about therapy dogs for those with dementia, try:
About the Author
Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.
Contributor since December 11th, 2017
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