The first ever dogs trained to help people with early-stage dementia have started work with their new owners.
The dementia dogs, a brainchild of students at Glasgow School of art, can remind sufferers to do daily tasks such as get out of bed and take their medicine.
The project started as a University task to develop products to help people with dementia. Now that trials are proving successful however, it is hoped that more dementia dogs will be trained up and given to people who need them.
With support from three charities – Alzheimer Scotland, Guide Dogs Scotland and Dogs for the Disabled, two puppies were given 18 months of training.
Oscar the golden retriever and Kaspa the labrador have now been living with and assisting their new owners for four months.
They have learned to respond to alarms to carry out certain tasks such as fetching medicine pouches and nudging their owners with their noses until they get up to do something they have to do.
Kaspa’s new owners Ken and Glenys Will are amazed at the difference the dog has made to their lives. When Ken was diagnosed with dementia three years ago, he became frightened of being alone, making it difficult for Glenys to leave the house without him.
“Kaspa is the best thing that’s ever happened to us,” Glenys said. “We can go shopping and the dog will sit with Ken. I don’t need to worry about him. We’re both more relaxed.”
The organisation is currently training up two more dogs and the charities funding the project say dementia dogs could become an increasingly popular way of helping people live more effectively with dementia.
Finding ways to manage and cope with dementia is important. Innovative ideas such as dementia dogs are going to become increasingly valuable as the population continues to age. For more information, please visit our Dementia page.