Dogs for Dementia - Our Best Friends Helping Those with Memory Loss

More people worldwide live with dementia, and dogs play a huge role by being an essential part of the care team. Trained dog can ease the stress and anxiety otherwise placed on the family.

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Dogs for Dementia - Our Best Friends Helping Those with Memory Loss
5 Min Read November 3rd, 2021

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. 

A dog dementia dog in a vest.

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.

A group of dogs on grass.

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:

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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”.

LTC News Contributor Linda Maxwell

Linda Maxwell

Contributor since December 11th, 2017

Editor's Note

Avoid creating a family crisis decades from now when you may need long-term health care. Your retirement plan should include a plan for the future costs and burdens of aging. 

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance can provide the guaranteed tax-free benefits that will give you access to your choice of quality care options, including care at home. 

The ideal time to obtain coverage is in your 40s or 50s. Several types of policies, including traditional/partnership, certified policies, hybrid policies with death benefits, and limited duration, short-term plans are available.

An experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will help you find appropriate coverage from the many available options - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator is an outstanding source to see the financial impact of care no matter where you live - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.

Other Available Resources on LTC NEWS

Many tools and resources are available on LTC NEWS to help you learn about your options to plan for aging's financial costs and burdens. The goal is to prepare your family and finances for the future costs and burdens of changing health and aging.

You can compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.

The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area. 

There are also available tax incentives, and see if these tax incentives are helpful by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

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LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News. You can also help find caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not.

Benefits of Reverse Mortgages 

There are many people today that have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can use the money in your home to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, add retirement income, or even pay for in-home care if you need care now. 

You can ask questions to LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show 62 Who Knew in the LTC NEWS feature "Ask Mike." His expertise in caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages can be a valuable resource - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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