Visiting Angels Tampa, FL Blog

National Dog Week

The fourth week of September marks the 90th celebration of National Dog Week, an annual recognition of all the ways dogs and people enhance one another’s lives.

It’s become increasingly common for nursing homes and other care facilities to have resident canines - service pets who brighten up the environment with their sweet, welcoming vibe. Dogs and dog-lovers deftly foster their own special brand of communication. Dogs are non-judgmental, easy to engage with and endlessly fun. They bring joy and laughter, forging a special relationship with their human counterparts, making them feel loved and special.

These are some reasons that service dogs can be particularly helpful to clients who are struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Dogs exude a sense of comfort and joy that transcends words, which for some clients, is just what they need.

Alzheimer’s Facts
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 5.5 million Americans age 65 and older have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Every 65 seconds another American develops the disease. Dementia names the category of brain disorders that involve memory loss, confusion and disorientation. Alzheimer’s Disease falls into this category.

Body memory
It can be exhausting, frustrating and frightening to have Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Learning to cope with those feelings and minimize stress is a key strategy for leading a healthy life after diagnosis, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Having a pet in one’s life can reduce stress, especially during times of transition. Dogs don’t hold it against anyone if that person feels uncomfortable, forgetful or confused. Dogs are just thrilled to see the person they know and love, and they make that clear. Plus, when that client is hugging, laughing, and playing with his dog, he doesn’t feel like he’s 84; he feels like he’s 13 again.

There’s something about the unconditional acceptance and joy that dogs radiate that can unlock our own body memories, and that feels good. It can be a nice relief from the stresses of our current reality and puts us back in touch with a simpler time. Having that joyful break is good for body, soul and mind.

Humans are made to be caregivers to those we love. Having an animal in our lives to care for creates a sense of duty, obligation, and responsibility. It reminds us that we’re needed, and we’re important. Even if the dog and the client are in a facility, these dynamic matters. The client may build her routine around visiting the pet at a certain time each time. She may also be able to help with walks, feedings, giving treats or brushing the dog.

It’s vital to feel needed. It helps us shape our schedule and reminds us that we’re capable of delivering help and care. All of this deeply flatters our humanity.

Pets create easy access to joy. The physical happiness they bring coupled with their affection offer an immediate and language-free delight that feeds clients’ souls. A client who is struggling with language and memory doesn’t need either of those to enjoy the company of the resident pet. The joy that animal brings nourishes the client in a unique way that is difficult for humans to achieve.

September 23 kicks off National Dog Week. Don’t forget to mark your calendar. Our four-legged friends give us much to celebrate!
Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.