A program focused on animal-assisted therapy for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease

By Staff Blogger / December, 2017

We recently introduced our Paws4ALZ Program for older individuals with dementia. Our volunteer, Colleen Bell, has been instrumental in starting Paws4ALZ and has been out in the community informing people of our program.

Paws4ALZ’s mission is to connect individuals with dementia, their families, and past or present caregivers to the loving rescue dogs. The program can also assist with finding a home for dogs that can no longer be taken care of by their owners due to dementia-related issues.

We have teamed up with Bichon Rescue OC in Placentia to help identify compatible dogs. This non-profit rescue organization also has a “Seniors for Seniors” program through which they rescue and re-home adult Bichons and other small non-shedding breeds that would be suitable as companions in senior homes. As Bichons are hypo-allergenic, they are a good fit in group arrangements. Paws4ALZ will also be working with other rescue organizations to consider a variety of dog breeds for placement.

Paws4ALZ was implemented to assist individuals affected by dementia in order to provide the many benefits that come with pet ownership. Research has shown that dogs can provide companionship and help improve the health of older owners by encouraging exercise, lowering stress level and blood pressure, and helping to reduce feelings of depression.

Our first placement was coordinated with Dr. Ron Simpson, owner of Granny’s Place, a 6-bed RCFE (Residential Care for the Elderly) in Mission Viejo. When Colleen first visited Granny’s Place, she met resident Sarah who needed a purpose in her life by taking care of a pet. The hunt to find a dog for Sarah began.

Colleen introduced several dogs to Sarah in order to find the perfect fit. When Sarah met Karly from Bichon OC, there was an instant connection – It was love at first sight. Sarah told Colleen, “Karly loves everyone in the house, but seems to know that I’m her Mom!”

For additional information on Paws4ALZ or a possible placement, please contact Colleen at Paws4ALZ@alzoc.org or Call 949-877-9288