We’re used to the idea of dogs being used to help people with certain medical or physical conditions. For example seizure alert dogs help warn people with epilepsy of an impending fit, and guide dogs help give confidence and support back to the blind.
Now DementiaDog.org aims to do the same for people with dementia. This is a training facility that aims to train dogs to respond to their owner when that person has dementia. Some of these people may have owned a dog in the past, or could be looking for a way to help them manage their condition more successfully.
Having a companion in this way can boost the confidence of someone with memory loss. This disease can make a person feel unsure and uncertain of their surroundings, especially if they are new. It is hoped that dementia dogs, as they will be called, can help dementia sufferers live a better life that is far more fulfilling.
October 2012 saw the first pilot project for Dementia Dogs take place. This project is at its very early stages, but the idea is that dogs will be trained to assist owners with dementia. Once the training is complete, each dog will be matched to the most suitable owner. This will happen in much the same way as other dogs are matched with owners who have restricted sight or epilepsy.
The Dementia Dog website certainly has interesting potential for the future. It is hard to imagine how the life of someone with dementia could be transformed in this way, when we have no previous information to go on. But the potential is huge, and the site has many stories of people who have seen dogs interact with others who have dementia with excellent results.
The scheme is all about improving the lives of those who have the condition, and the early signs are good. The Dementia Dog project could be just as valuable for dementia sufferers as Guide Dogs for the Blind is for those with poor or no sight.
The year-long pilot scheme follows on from extensive research, and many people are hoping it will be a huge success. Given the information we already have, the potential is indeed very good.
If you would like to know more about Dementiadog please visit their website www.dementiadog.org