Dementia Dogs project a real breakthrough
NewsTuesday 16 July 2013
Dogs and humans have worked closely for years and man’s best friend has come in handy in a vast number of situations. We have seen guide dogs, sniffer dogs and search and rescue dogs doing their bit for society for years and now a new type of dog is going to be used to help people with dementia.
The Independent spoke to an elderly couple in Scotland who have had one of the first UK dementia dog - a two-year-old golden Labrador called Kaspa.
The dog’s list of chores includes waking up his owners at the right time, fetching medicines when a reminder alarm goes off, and he also carries items between the couple.
He really is a special pooch and is one of the first to receive specialist training to assist dementia-sufferers.
The Independent reports that Mr Will, 79, was diagnosed with vascular dementia three years ago and his wife, Mrs Will, 66, took on the role of carer.
The couple, who have been married for 48 years, had found it very hard to deal with Mr Will’s dementia.
However, the arrival of Kaspa has really helped their situation. As well as assisting with his chores and practical training, the dog has also relieved plenty of stress for the couple and has encouraged them to get out and about.
Speaking to the paper, Mrs Will said: “Kaspa has totally given us our lives back. Ken is much happier because he's got the dog and we can go out now. We can go shopping together, we can even go on holidays.
“We are a lot more relaxed since the dog came because if Ken gets in a mood and angry, the dog comes and nudges him and he forgets his problems. I've got a good bit of him back again.”
This new project is fantastic and offers plenty of opportunities to dementia-sufferers. The team behind the project have said that the carers find that they spend much less time giving reassurance to their partner because the dog provides a new “calming ” focus.
The Dementia Dog project was originally a brainwave from a group of product design students at the Glasgow School of Art. Gordon Hush, the director of the programme said that they had exhibited the ability to re-design experiences “above and beyond the traditional domain of material manufacture”.
Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled and Guide Dogs Scotland, as well as with funding from the Scottish Government and UK Design Council were all brought together to get the project started. And, it is hoped to be rolled out further with more dogs undertaking training.