Our Community Dog programme is training dogs and specialist handlers to work with people in the early-moderate stages of dementia. So, how are dogs helping people with dementia?
We work alongside a trained dementia care practitioner to design engaging weekly sessions with a Community Dog to help the person with dementia meet their individual goals. Read our top 5 ways that dogs are making a difference.
How are dogs helping people with dementia? Here’s our top 5 ways
Confidence and skills to access the community
Dementia can mean that some people become socially-isolated as they lose the confidence to go out. Sessions with the Community Dog bring a reason to go out, a focus for the time in the community, and a natural conduit for conversation with others.
Sessions might also be focused on specific skills or routines. For example, where someone is no longer able to drive, with support from the Community Dog and handler, they can develop the skills and confidence to travel by bus.
The relaxing qualities of being with a well-trained dog are increasingly being recognised. In our Community Dog programme we bring this learning to other situations, where anxiety may have become a barrier to taking part in certain activities (eg using public transport) or is an issue in its own right.
Communication and social skills
A dog doesn’t judge but is trained to respond to simple, specific, words. For people with dementia where conversation has become increasingly difficult, this engagement and immediate positive feedback from a dog can boost confidence to communicate, engage with others and generate a positive response. This supports social skills which enables people to connect with others.
Carer relationships and support
Close relationships can be put under strain as a spouse or partner’s role changes to take on greater care-giving responsibilities. Regular sessions with a Community Dog can create a positive focus around which the couple can interact and also plan/look forward to that engagement on a regular basis.
Developing a renewed sense of purpose and motivation
Daily motivation and general purpose can become difficult for some people to maintain with a diagnosis of dementia, putting pressure on family members and care-givers.
Activities are designed to help the person with the dementia engage, bringing a renewed sense of focus, purpose and wellbeing. For example, taking responsibility for specific tasks for the dog’s visit. This provides an opportunity for the person to care for and focus on another living being at a time when they may feel that all the care is being directed at them.
Dogs for Good is a founder member of the Dementia Dog project to support people with dementia through the help of specially trained dogs. Find out more about the project. You can read personal stories from 5 clients with dementia assistance dogs to find out more about the incredible impact these dogs have.