With good reason, the possibility of getting Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the scariest parts about growing older. If you have a family member or loved one who has the disease it can be heart-wrenchingly painful to watch them struggle to remember the simplest of things or complete the easiest of tasks. Ultimately, the majority of Alzheimer’s patients end up in a nursing home because they require around the clock care that even the most well-meaning family members cannot provide. Putting a parent, or other elderly loved one, in a nursing home though can also be painful. You worry about the nursing home being impersonal and depressing as well as having valid concerns about abuse and neglect that often occurs in a nursing home setting. One nursing home in New Hampshire has found a way to make the facility a bit happier. That happiness comes in the form of a canine companion named Addie who helps care for the dementia patients at the nursing home.
At the Riverside Rest Home in Dover, New Hampshire, a canine friend is helping elderly residents with dementia. Addie is a 2-year-old golden and Labrador retriever mix who came to the county’s nursing home five weeks ago, and has been a hit ever since. She knows 40 commands, picks up dropped items, plays ball and is learning to knock over plastic bowling pins so she can “bowl” with residents. A social worker, Kristi Hughes, who works at the facility and who cares for Addie on her “off time,” says Addie gives the residents something intangible. “With the dementia residents it’s really nice, because they are actually remembering her,” Hughes said. “They see me, and if I don’t have her, they’re like, ‘Where’s my dog?’” Amazingly, Hughes said Addie has even gotten some of her dementia patients who have a hard time holding conversations with people to talk again. They’ll talk to her in complete sentences,” Hughes said. Hughes applied for the dog through Canine Companions for Independence, headquartered in Santa Rosa, Calif., over a year ago. She learned about the nonprofit organization because her sister uses a wheelchair and has one of their dogs to help when she is home alone. The program is a graduate program, currently run by Laura Ann Dubecky. According to Dubecky, 115 dogs are trained, on average, for facilities and individuals in the Northeast region each year. At 8 weeks old, they are sent to volunteer “puppy raisers,” who have them until they are 18 months old. They learn commands that are useful to people with disabilities, and then enter intensive training before being placed. –
Living with Alzheimer’s Disease
Despite the advances in medicine and science that have occurred over the last century, Alzheimer’s disease remains a mystery. The disease is a progressive one that slowly robs a sufferer of his/her memory. Sadly, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and is the only cause of death in the top ten that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. As of 2016 over five million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s. By the year 2015 experts believe that figure will increase to 14 million as a result of the increase in the elderly population and the increased prevalence of the disease. Currently, one in nine people over the age of 65 in the U.S. is living with Alzheimer’s and one in three people dies with the disease or with another form of old age related dementia. The financial cost of Alzheimer’s is staggering. In 2015, the U.S. will spend approximately $225 billion on Alzheimer’s. By the year 2050 that figure is projected to climb to $1.1 trillion. If you have a loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s is can be emotionally and financially draining. Though it may not be something you wish to think about, it is important for you to encourage your loved one to get his or her estate plan in place while in the early stages of the disease. If it is too late for that, you may need to step in and petition for guardianship. Either way, the key is to work closely with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding estate planning, contact the experienced New Hampshire estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.