Pets and dementia

Suzanna1969

Registered User
Mar 28, 2015
345
0
Essex
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:
 
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JTSA

Registered User
Jan 29, 2011
19
0
I have Vascular Dementia, CADASIL

Thanks for all your replies - I'm leaning towards a cat, and probably an older, calmer rescue cat might be just the thing.

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.
 

Anniev

Registered User
Apr 27, 2015
1
0
Cats.

Asking for thoughts and advice ref getting a dog/cat to live with me and hubby (mid stage AD). I've recently scaled down my work commitments to spend more time looking after my husband, and am thinking of getting a pet - we've had numerous dogs and cats in the past and are currently looking after a relative's cat. Pros and cons anybody?

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
 

Chrismitch

Registered User
Jun 23, 2011
127
0
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.
 

Corriegal

Registered User
Feb 7, 2015
11
0
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.
 

Jenny57

Registered User
Jan 16, 2015
4
0
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!!
 

Colly16

Registered User
Mar 16, 2012
2
0
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.
 

dede5177

Registered User
Feb 5, 2015
22
0
Nuneaton
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.


Asking for thoughts and advice ref getting a dog/cat to live with me and hubby (mid stage AD). I've recently scaled down my work commitments to spend more time looking after my husband, and am thinking of getting a pet - we've had numerous dogs and cats in the past and are currently looking after a relative's cat. Pros and cons anybody?
 

dede5177

Registered User
Feb 5, 2015
22
0
Nuneaton
carer and animals

My Mum lives alone with her dog and cat and when asked by doctors what is important.
It is her Dog, cat and then me. ;)

She is on the edge of needing help/company during the day and encouraging to eat.
I've been told that care agencies won't visit unless the dog can be put in another room.
This she will not do, *Love me Love my dog" attitude.

If I lived with her I would have more animals as they have always been her life and kept her going, but on her own I think a new animal would be difficult.

Good Luck.

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.
 

Prospector

Registered User
Sep 30, 2014
61
0
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.



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AnneED

Registered User
Feb 19, 2012
80
0
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!
 

Bernadette2

Registered User
Mar 13, 2015
27
0
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...
 

toefinder

Registered User
Mar 5, 2012
4
0
Pets

Asking for thoughts and advice ref getting a dog/cat to live with me and hubby (mid stage AD). I've recently scaled down my work commitments to spend more time looking after my husband, and am thinking of getting a pet - we've had numerous dogs and cats in the past and are currently looking after a relative's cat. Pros and cons anybody?
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
 

Chuggalug

Registered User
Mar 24, 2014
8,007
0
Norfolk
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

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.
 

technotronic

Registered User
Jun 14, 2014
223
0
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.


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Possa

New member
Feb 25, 2024
2
0
Asking for thoughts and advice ref getting a dog/cat to live with me and hubby (mid stage AD). I've recently scaled down my work commitments to spend more time looking after my husband, and am thinking of getting a pet - we've had numerous dogs and cats in the past and are currently looking after a relative's cat. Pros and cons anybody?
Hi. My 77year old father, who is afflicted by dementia, lives with me in my home. He has a 10 year old, gentle natured dog who is his constant companion. Because of his gentle nature he is a source of therapy and company for my dad. He is the sole thought in dad's mind. If we go shopping he continues to ask if we left Jed at the shop or where's Jed. He was a great help with dad transitioning to his new living arrangements in my home. However, Jed is a huge dog. He is the boss of dad instead of the other way around. Dad continues to sneak Jed into his room at night. During any lucid moments I talk with dad about Jed staying on the connecting porch at night. He agrees and says he should be outside on his bed. So because he sneaks Jed inside, once he is asleep, Jed makes himself at home on my living room couches or on dad's bed. It is a huge source of frustration for me and increases the washing I do daily. He smells, particularly on rainy days, he gets washed once a week by me but I prefer not to have this big dog having the run of my home. I have put baby gates up at the door but dad just pushes them down to get the dog inside. I know it's such a little thing but I care for dad all day every day and I still work. This issue is affecting my state of being. The pressure of full time care, no sleep and trying to survive I would really like to not feel so guilty for wanting just this one thing. Jed is vet cared for, well fed, loved but he pushes the friendship A LOT. It feels like dad just thinks my request is a joke. It feels like he doesn't respect me even though every day my mind and my care and my work is focussed only on him.
 

backin

Registered User
Feb 6, 2024
133
0
Hi. My 77year old father, who is afflicted by dementia, lives with me in my home. He has a 10 year old, gentle natured dog who is his constant companion. Because of his gentle nature he is a source of therapy and company for my dad. He is the sole thought in dad's mind. If we go shopping he continues to ask if we left Jed at the shop or where's Jed. He was a great help with dad transitioning to his new living arrangements in my home. However, Jed is a huge dog. He is the boss of dad instead of the other way around. Dad continues to sneak Jed into his room at night. During any lucid moments I talk with dad about Jed staying on the connecting porch at night. He agrees and says he should be outside on his bed. So because he sneaks Jed inside, once he is asleep, Jed makes himself at home on my living room couches or on dad's bed. It is a huge source of frustration for me and increases the washing I do daily. He smells, particularly on rainy days, he gets washed once a week by me but I prefer not to have this big dog having the run of my home. I have put baby gates up at the door but dad just pushes them down to get the dog inside. I know it's such a little thing but I care for dad all day every day and I still work. This issue is affecting my state of being. The pressure of full time care, no sleep and trying to survive I would really like to not feel so guilty for wanting just this one thing. Jed is vet cared for, well fed, loved but he pushes the friendship A LOT. It feels like dad just thinks my request is a joke. It feels like he doesn't respect me even though every day my mind and my care and my work is focussed only on him.
I think you should allow your dad the comfort. It will easier for you if you just accept it, there will be harder challenges to face
 

SeaSwallow

Volunteer Moderator
Oct 28, 2019
5,816
0
Hi. My 77year old father, who is afflicted by dementia, lives with me in my home. He has a 10 year old, gentle natured dog who is his constant companion. Because of his gentle nature he is a source of therapy and company for my dad. He is the sole thought in dad's mind. If we go shopping he continues to ask if we left Jed at the shop or where's Jed. He was a great help with dad transitioning to his new living arrangements in my home. However, Jed is a huge dog. He is the boss of dad instead of the other way around. Dad continues to sneak Jed into his room at night. During any lucid moments I talk with dad about Jed staying on the connecting porch at night. He agrees and says he should be outside on his bed. So because he sneaks Jed inside, once he is asleep, Jed makes himself at home on my living room couches or on dad's bed. It is a huge source of frustration for me and increases the washing I do daily. He smells, particularly on rainy days, he gets washed once a week by me but I prefer not to have this big dog having the run of my home. I have put baby gates up at the door but dad just pushes them down to get the dog inside. I know it's such a little thing but I care for dad all day every day and I still work. This issue is affecting my state of being. The pressure of full time care, no sleep and trying to survive I would really like to not feel so guilty for wanting just this one thing. Jed is vet cared for, well fed, loved but he pushes the friendship A LOT. It feels like dad just thinks my request is a joke. It feels like he doesn't respect me even though every day my mind and my care and my work is focussed only on him.
Hello @Possa and welcome to the Dementia Support Forum. It must be difficult for you looking after your dad as well as working plus having a big dog in the house. Do you have any help looking after your dad, if not I would suggest getting into contact with your local social services to see what help might be available. You might find it useful to start a thread of your own in the - I care for a person with dementia - area. There you can ask questions or just share how you feel. I have attached a link below.
 

Fugs

Registered User
Feb 16, 2023
104
0
Unfortunately @Possa someone with dementia is unable to fully understand the implications of their actions on you. I think you have a big enough job supporting your father, and working without having to address a large dog as well. All I can suggest is locking doors, because it appears that your father is just going to ignore any discussions that you have with him. You may realistically have to look at re-homing the dog. Sorry!
Do try to take care.