Students work alongside the Dementia Dog team to teach the assistance dogs to complete tasks such as responding to an alarm, learning to retrieve a medication pouch or water bottle to a person’s lap to remind them to take their medicine or hydrate.
The dogs can also learn how to help regulate sleeping patterns – waking someone up in the morning to get out of bed, gently nudging them awake if they cat nap during the day, and helping remove items of clothing when it’s time to get dressed.
They can retrieve shoes and their lead when it is time to go for a walk, with a dog harness and dual lead enabling both the person with dementia and carer to take the dog for a walk together, with the dog walking between them. This not only helps improve levels of physical exercise and balance, it also provides a healthy and positive focus for the couple to enjoy.
With dogs acting as a natural social icebreaker, they help open up conversation within the community, providing an opportunity to shift focus and conversation away from always being about dementia.
The dogs also hugely boost confidence and independence for the couple, helping reduce social isolation while providing a renewed sense of purpose for the person with dementia.