Dementia Dog

ContactJoyce Gray, Deputy Director of Development, Alzheimer Scotland
Address22 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 7RN

Dementia DogDementia Dog is a service providing assistance dogs to people with dementia, helping them lead more fulfilled, independent and stress-free lives.

A sense of routine can often disintegrate for people with dementia. Dementia Dog aims to prove that dogs can help people with dementia maintain their waking, sleeping and eating routine, remind them to take medication, improve confidence, keep them active and engaged with their local community, as well as providing a constant companion who will reassure when facing new and unfamiliar situations

The prototype for the Dementia Dog service was developed as part of a joint competition, run by the Design Council and the Department of Health, to find teams of designers and experts who could develop new ideas to help improve the lives of those affected by dementia.

The video below highlights the benefits of Dementia Dog.

The dogs will be taught to support existing patterns of waking, sleeping and eating for people with dementia. Through responding to sound alerts they can also help with regular hydration, medication and toilet use. In the early stages, reminders may not be necessary, but if they begin immediately it will mean the routine is established when the need arises. Dogs can also be trained to provide orientation outside the home.

The social and emotional benefits are potentially huge. Dogs are naturally loving, therapeutic presences and extensive anecdotal evidence suggests they can have a transformative effect on people with dementia’s alertness and mood. Outside the home, dogs can be great ice-breakers, initiating conversations in which memory need not be a factor. Just by being able to get out more, the person with dementia can widen his or her circle of support.

If the person does reach a point where he or she is rarely going out of the house, the dog provides much needed companionship.