Pets and dementia

Discussion in 'I have a partner with dementia' started by Mibs, Apr 18, 2015.

  1. Suzanna1969

    Suzanna1969 Registered User

    Mar 28, 2015
    #21 Suzanna1969, Apr 28, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
    Mum DOTES on their cat even though she is probably the most unsociable animal I've ever met! I honestly think that caring for my Dad and for the cat has really helped my Mum, they give her a focus. Mum has always been a nurturer and the most caring person ever. My Dad sometimes finds her constant fussing over him a bit much and I think he's grateful to the cat for taking away some of her focus!

    If Mum is having a bad morning, which is more and more frequent these days, distracting her with the cat is a great way of easing her upset.

    Do get an older animal, 4 years plus, preferably from a rescue centre. You often find they have animals whose elderly owners have died so will be used to an owner who is maybe not so sprightly! Cats obviously don't need walking and it's incredibly soothing to have a snoozing cat on your lap to stroke (I think mine have saved my sanity on more than one occasion!)

    There is always a period of adjustment for the animal and you need to factor this in as well as the adjustment period for your husband! I collected a 'new' cat from the rescue centre only this morning (we lost one of our 6 months ago and felt the time was right to give another cat a home). He is currently hiding in my wardrobe and I suspect he will take a while to settle in. I won't introduce him to my other 2 yet! So don't assume your new arrival will immediately head for your husband's lap, their eyes will meet and an aura of calm will descend, alas that only happens in Disney films from the 1970s...!

    Oh and since Mum's stroke in March she has forgotten who I am on numerous occasions. But she's never forgotten the cat's name.... :rolleyes:
  2. JTSA

    JTSA Registered User

    Jan 29, 2011
    I have Vascular Dementia, CADASIL

    I have very little balance now, and the cats and little dogs run under my feet. The larger dogs jump on me, from the front and behind. The amount of work to remember to feed them, water them, get them to the vet, put their bark collars on them, finf them when they escape the fence yard (believe me, they move faster than I can) all combine to make them a serious hazard. The cats are 15 years old. They will still cuddle, but when startled, I could lash out. My nephew has CADASIL dementia; he was maybe 36, and is not yet 40. He picked up their small dog and threw it across the room. breaking its leg, because it peed on the floor and nobody remembered to take it out regularly. The dog was my CADASIL sister's, and everybody in the house treated that dog poorly. Finally, they found a new home for it, I was so relieved. The thing is that commitment to an animal increases the carer's workload, and they live many years while the person who enjoys the animal but has dementia will go downhill. I like the electronic animals that run on batteries. The cats even purr and some breathe and purr when stroked. I am sorry I have these animals, and what will happen with Catastrophic Reactions? I "vote" no to live critters. A fall risk, an abuse risk.
  3. Anniev

    Anniev Registered User

    Apr 27, 2015

    HI, My husband has always had Labradors, but since his diagnosis he has been unable to walk them, so after our 14 year old dog died, we bought two cats. The 8year old we rehomed and the 2 year old we bought for our Grandaughter who lives with us. I cannot descibe the pleasure and company they have given my husband. I am the one who has to feed them and clear out their litter trays ( they are both house cats) but it is worth the extra work as they are such good company and are very loyal companions. Both ours are Britsh short hairs as they are quite placid and very easy to train. Delightful companions. Regards, Vivien
  4. Chrismitch

    Chrismitch Registered User

    Jun 23, 2011
    Two things: pets are wonderful in the early and mid stages but eventually the 'patient' loses interest in the animal totally, so be prepared for that.
    Secondly, it makes me so cross that so-called caring organisations like Anchor and the Joseph Rowntree foundation do not allow pets into their purchased assisted living retirement properties. At 55 I might live there for forty years - I am an animal lover and so is my OH.
  5. Corriegal

    Corriegal Registered User

    Feb 7, 2015
    Budgies help my Mum

    I Just had to say that my elderly Mum became the owner of a budgie over 2 years ago, despite previously not being keen on them (Her choice - which surprised the family!). Overall it's been a great success all round. A little help with the budgie care may be all that's needed. You don't necessarily have to invest in lots of expensive equipment, as charity shops are often a realistically priced source, with rescue budgies being available locally to where you live.(Local authorities often have a list) Minimal daily changes of budgie bedding/food & water is recommended and quite inexpensive. Her budgie has also become a talking point when folks visit her as she delights in telling everyone all about it and how it talks to back to her. It also helps Mum to keep a focus, helping her maintain her social skills, especially with encouragement from everyone who visits. Quite a few housing accommodation organisations/residential nursing homes approve of budgies/small birds, tho it's best to check with them first.

    Mum was always a dog lover, although now family members visit her regularly with their dogs, so she still enjoys having tactile interaction with loving pets.
  6. Jenny57

    Jenny57 Registered User

    Jan 16, 2015
    Pets are so therapeutic

    I totally agree that having a pet for someone with Alzheimer's is beneficial, there is a real difference in my mothers mood when I take along my dog. However it does depend if they have the support to know the dog is being let out to the toilet etc, it's a fallacy that all dogs need a walk, some old rescue dogs, themselves with signs of dementia only want company, a comfy place to sleep, letting out in the garden for the toilet etc. obviously they'll all vary, every circumstance will be different. My old staffy with dementia sits happily next to my mother also with dementia, she talks to the dog constantly, strokes her and I feel it's very beneficial to both of them. A cat would be more sensible of course as long as it wasn't a cat. Which didn't want to go outside and needed to use litter trays! Not a good idea! I have fostered the occasional old dog from a local rescue and stayed with my mother and the dog, this benefits everyone!!
  7. Colly16

    Colly16 Registered User

    Mar 16, 2012
    Ups and downsides

    My mum was a cat lover all her life and when she moved to be closer to me after my dad died we brought their cat with her. While she still loved her - she soon started not to understand how to care for her and became very upset when she wouldn't come and sit on her lap and be calm all the time. The cat also wasn't allowed out as so was kept indoors because I knew Mum would be distraught is she didn't come back - which made the cat miserable. Mum would also feed her whatever packet food she could open - so dear Sassy was often offered meringues and custard in her bowl. So in mid dementia journey, the cat was not such a good idea.

    The cat lives with me now - and is a wonderful living link to both my mum and dad.

    We also have a dog - black lab and she was incredibly empathetic and calm and kind to mum - and would always go and sit by or on her feet when mum was sitting down. And mum would love to stroke her and go all dreamy and happy. When mum went into a care home I would take the dog and all the resident's eyes lit up when they saw her and the dog absolutely knew these were different but very special people.

    So in my experience - pets can be a wonderful companion for dementia sufferers but I would go towards a dog rather than a cat.
  8. dede5177

    dede5177 Registered User

    Feb 5, 2015
    re pets and dementia

    My mom has recently resumed with the memory clinic now with severe dementia she already had cat and budgie, that I was having to look after but asked regularly for a dog - we bought one used to cats etc he is 12years and smallish cavalier spaniel size he wont stay in house on his own with mom preferring to work with me but does give her something to look forward to and complain about, the dog must be walked twice a day this has been beneficial mum remembers his name and feeding times but frets over him is he too fat or thin. Also when pressured he gets blamed shouted at and we cant stop this overall I am pleased as the addition is a talking point for her but overall it will be more work for non dementia carer.

  9. dede5177

    dede5177 Registered User

    Feb 5, 2015
    carer and animals

    Just read your note - my mom lives with myself her daughter but I still use age conc ern carers twice a week for two hours each time I don't expect them to llok after the dog but they will take the dog walkies with my mom taking ball treat and pooh bags and find its beneficial maybe not all caring organisations are the same if they are only there for 20mins they wont want a dog around but many do appreciate animals.
  10. Prospector

    Prospector Registered User

    Sep 30, 2014
    Trowbridge, Wiltshire
    Look up Pets as Therapy on the Internet - they have plenty of good advice for selecting suitable animals. We adopted a specially selected RSPCA rescue cat earlier this year and she has been good company for both of us, and a talking point. Mature animals are easier. A dog would probably have been more companionable, but also much more work for me, as it would have been down to me to take it for a walk - I am still working full time.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  11. AnneED

    AnneED Registered User

    Feb 19, 2012
    East Yorkshire UK
    Pets and care can mix - Mum's carers all love my dog when I visit and there has been no suggestion of a problem - if a carer had an issue with dogs then the dog would need to be elsewhere when that carer was on duty. Mum's care home (respite at present) has said that they will take pets if the pets are straightforward and have no issues (ie staff don't have to walk them and behaviour is friendly.) Mum's cat is still with her alone in their bungalow and she is fed and her tray changed by the care staff - it's on the list and they have gloves etc for the job. Meanwhile PAT pets and other people's pets are a good standby if circumstances don't allow a permanent pet. Don't however go for a puppy or kitten - I agree!
  12. Bernadette2

    Bernadette2 Registered User

    Mar 13, 2015
    As Izzy mentioned, there is some really interesting work going on with dogs and dementia started with the Glasgow School of Art. See their Dementia Dogs website...
  13. toefinder

    toefinder Registered User

    Mar 5, 2012

    Hi, we had big issues with my dad , he had the dog prior to his dementia getting a hold. When he became more confused he fed the dog continually. Giving up his own food if he was not watched to fed the dog and he lost weight and the dog ballooned. I think a cat would be preferable as they do not need the constant walking and have a good balance of independence and sociability. Hope this help. Gill Wallace
  14. Chuggalug

    Chuggalug Registered User

    Mar 24, 2014
    That happened to us with the cat. Constant feeding until the food went rancid. I could not control it. Absolutely impossible. That went on for some years. I could never have another pet because of that scenario, sadly.
  15. technotronic

    technotronic Registered User

    Jun 14, 2014
    We have had cats since well before my wife succumbed to Dementia 3-4 years ago, as myself n I have always been cat lovers.
    We did have 4 but lost one last year, until the middle of last year when my wife got decidedly worse she seemed to forget how n what to feed the cats, giving them any food to hand including salty crisps!
    I have taken over feeding the cats full time myself, n so far have not had any problems like as described above n our cats seem ok with my wife.
    They can be excellent company when you are feeling alone with no one to talk to, as you talk to them like you do a person (mind you we've been doing that for years!) n you feel you have someone there with you that you can give attention to n they can be very loving n caring too.
    All the above can apply equally to dogs as well, but they do require regular exercise, an added extra thing to do daily.
    Cats don't require too much attention or looking after, n also stroking a cat is known to relieve stress in people, so it maybe beneficial to you to have a cat for company n also helping in stress relief!
    Only thing I would say is get a fit cat with no problems, illnesses etc, that could become an added n unnecessary expense n drain on any money you have coming in.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point

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