Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Alzheimer’s Aid Dogs Make Life Safer (Video 2:39)
Losing memory, the ability to function, and orientation to surroundings can be very frustrating to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Imagine how frightening it can be for loved ones to have that person simply go for a walk outside while being unsure about problems with falling or getting lost. It is easy to see why some choose to stay in safety at home. Unfortunately, this can lead to depression and a lack of independence.
Some Alzheimer’s sufferers have found support for leading a more normal life. Yariv Ben Yosef, an Israeli dog trainer who specializes in training service dogs, developed a program for the Alzheimer’s Aid Dog project. Bella, a smooth collie, was the first dog trained for this program. The first person to receive her was Yehuda, an Alzheimer’s patient aged 62.
Bella is trained to alert others when Yehuda is in distress, provide physical support to prevent falls and injuries, and even take him home if he becomes lost. In addition, Bella wears a special homing device for the family to signal to the dog when it is time to bring Yehuda home. This device also makes it easy to locate them if Yehuda refuses to follow the dog. The dog never leaves him and barks to attract attention when needed.
Another form of assistance the dog provides is a special collar with a transmitter that reacts to a special bark the dog is trained to use to call for help. This bark activates the transmitter that transmits to the cell phones of family members. When at home, Bella is trained to operate a panic button if help is needed.
The following video features Yehuda and his dog Bella. She has been with him for 11 years. They have a great 24-hour friendship caring for each other.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.