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Service Dogs for Seniors
Therapy dogs or service dogs have played a major role in individuals’ lives. Whether it’s helping those with PTSD, epilepsy, or those who are visually impaired, service dogs can help support those with mental illnesses and/or physical disabilities.
 
The senior population in particular have the opportunity to reap many benefits from these professional canine companions. The elderly face a wide range of medical challenges, including impaired mobility, vision, and hearing. There’s an increasing need for better treatment options, and service dogs may provide a healthy alternative for numerous physical and mental conditions as a result of aging.

Aging-in-Place with a Service Dog

Aging at home is an area where service dogs can be especially helpful to the senior population. Service dogs can be trained to bring the phone to an elderly person, or even to take the laundry out of the dryer. They can be trained to retrieve dropped items, turn lights on and off, open refrigerators, wake people up, and even fetch medicine at the sound of a special alarm. Service dogs can also aid in activities like street crossing and can even help guide the elderly on sidewalks.
 
In conjunction with a caregiver, service dogs can provide numerous benefits to an older adult.

Service Dogs for Dementia

“Dementia dogs” are trained to help the cognitively impaired in conjunction with a caregiver. They can provide comfort, companionship, and assistance for people with dementia and their family caregivers. Dementia affects mental processes such as memory, object recognition, and sequencing events and language, and a service dog can help to fill these gaps. For a population who has difficulty with routine, dementia-trained service dogs can provide a much-needed relief for those with dementia.

Here are some things that service dogs can be trained to do to assist those with dementia:

  • Pick up items that were dropped.
  • Close and open doors.
  • Notify the handler that medications were missed.
  • Provide tactile stimulation.
  • Provide companionship and mental stimulation.
  • Encourage the owner to open the cupboard (when he/she forgets to eat).
  • Remind the owner that the service dog needs to eat as well.
  • Trigger an alarm for emergency situations (such as an accidental fall).
  • Guide owner home if he/she gets lost.
  • Help create routine and guide them through their day.
  • Improve socialization with other people (dogs are great conversation starters when on a walk).
Service dogs can be a great benefit to those with mental or physical disabilities. If your loved one already has a service dog, Happier at Home can provide a caregiver to work in conjunction with the service dog.
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