DAPHNE — For patients with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, having a pet can help keep them calm."Many of our patients oftentimes can't remember who they are or where they are," said …
DAPHNE — For patients with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, having a pet can help keep them calm.
"Many of our patients oftentimes can't remember who they are or where they are," said Wendy Melton, administrator with Synergy HomeCare in Daphne. "The confusion they experience can often lead to violent outbursts. Having a pet can give them something to focus on and keep them calm."
But having a real pet can present its own set of challenges.
"Many of our patients simply don't know their own strength," Melton said. "And because they are prone to memory loss, they can forget to feed a real pet or they will feed it and forget that they've fed it."
That's why Synergy HomeCare partnered with Ageless Innovations last December to offer Joy For All Companion Pets which are robotic companions for their clients.
Through the program, the patients' caregivers request a companion pet through the pilot program and patients can "adopt" either a dog or a cat.
The pets come with a name tag that the patients themselves provide for their companion animal. The pets also come with a certificate of adoption.
"The robot pets are often named for pets our patients had when they were younger," Melton said.
The robot companions mimic the movements of an actual pet. Cats can purr, meow and roll over while the dogs can pant and respond similarly to the client's actions.
Through the pilot program, three patients were given robotic companions as pets. The response was overwhelming.
"The response was better than we could have hoped for," Melton said. "And we now have a list of requests for more companions and hope to continue the program into the future."