Around 750,000 people in the UK suffer from Dementia, a degenerative brain dysfunction that causes memory loss and confusion.
People with dementia often forget the most basic routines such as eating, sleeping and drinking water, leaving many sufferers unable to look after themselves.
Five new ways of supporting people with memory loss will be announced this Thursday as part of the Prime Minister’s National Dementia Challenge. The campaign will be funded by the Department of Health and the Design council as part of an incentive to become a world leader for dementia research and care.
The guide dog idea will be put into practice by Alzheimer’s Scotland and Dogs for the Disabled, who will train four Labrador and retriever puppies to help with activities such as encouraging their handler to open food cupboards, or guiding them to the bathroom to remind them to wash.
Joyce Gray of Alzheimer’s Scotland said: “The anecdotal evidence we have is that people may forget familiar faces but not pets. It’s such a strong bond that people often remember them longest. People light up when they see animals. They don’t need to communicate verbally but they can still interact. You can have a speechless bond.”
The dogs will offer companionship as well as routine – an important part of a dementia sufferer’s life. Patients will also be more likely to head outside, get exercise and interact with other people when they have a dog to walk.
Find out more about dementia and how counsellors can offer their professional support by visiting our Dementia page.
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