Dementia and pets
Thanks to Speech-notes for helping me with this blog
A lot has been written about the role of animals, living in the same environment as people with dementia, or any other, neurological illness.
In the past people have always said that animals are dumb, yet we all know that this is wrong
My wife and I know this from experience, because when I was seeing the first signs that something was wrong with my health, our Retriever cross Ben, would stay by my side, and would never let me go anywhere without him.
This was frightening at first, until someone pointed out that he sensed that something was wrong with me
Even if I went to the toilet, I would find him sat at the door when I came out.
I did not realise at the time, but he obviously had sensed that something was wrong, and no matter where I went he would follow.
If I went for a lie down, I would wake up to find our cat Pepe at one side of me, and Ben at the other.
It was around this time that I started to see things which were not real, I guess in this day and age it is classed as hallucinations, something I knew nothing about, and still struggle with it.
But I realised eventually, that if Ben did not move, it was my brain playing tricks on me.
Now that he has passed away, I have no real way of telling what is real and what is not, unless my wife is with me
Sadly Ben passed away just after I got the final diagnosis and got settled back in the family home in the North East. It seemed that he was ill himself, although he did not show it until it was too late.
I vaguely remember crying my eyes out at the vets, made much harder when the vet told us that Ben must have known he was ill, but must have hung on until I got my diagnosis and was settled, then decided it was time for him to move on.
He was in many ways my guardian Angel, and protected me from the worst while I was going through the diagnosis procedure, and was my eyes, when I was not sure if something was real, or if I was hallucinating
Sometimes I find the whole situation to be stressful, and have been accused of staring, when I am trying to work out what is real and what is not.
It's not the first time I have seen people, who then simply disappeared, and at times like this I find the situation to be stressful.
However these days we hear so much about Dogs, for those who have dementia, something I find interesting as I would never have considered it before
Dogs being used to assist those living with eyesight problems etc
Dogs being trained to assist other people with various medical problems.
Dogs used to sniff out medical problems
A few years ago I went out with my son's dog, a rather nutty border collie, who only has three legs, but noticed that this dog, kept close to my right leg, in fact as my wife said she was acting like a stabiliser, to stop me falling over.
Although I said at the time, that I could feel her pressing against my leg I was not worried, because she was doing a job that need doing.
But thinking about this properly, I do feel that it is good to have animals around us, because they know what is needed and give pure love and affection 24 hours a day, in return for nothing more than being fed, watered and walked.
Yes walking is good exercise, so each dog must be matched to the person with the illness, so that we don't match a powerful dog to a weak or person with balance problems.