dogs in the care of the elderly: help or burden?

Animals have long been used in the care of the sick or the elderly. Particularly well known are the Dolphin-therapy, but also with the help of horses, cats or dogs, animal-assisted therapy has been practiced for many years. Just the best friend of man is suitable for this kind of work particularly well. We will explain in this article the difference between Service and visitor dogs, and whether dogs in the 24-hour care can be used, and whether senior citizens must part with their beloved Pets when they can no longer take care of adequately.

Hunde in der Altenpflege: Hilfe oder Last?

Dogs can play in the care of the elderly an important role; © Alisara /

Visit dog or service dog?

Generally dogs between Visit and service dogs of distinction. Visit dogs are often in foster care and homes for the elderly, hospitals or schools. The dog handlers in these facilities, through activities with clients, patients or children, the General well-being and to improve the quality of life. The interaction with the animal enabled the elderly and may meetings, both in single as well as in small groups. The special connection between human and dog can help, for example, to promote the communication with a demented Person. The leader of the visiting dogs need not necessarily be a therapeutic or medical education.

This dog-based promotion of dog differs so fundamentally from the tasks area of the Service. These animals have been trained to stand with the people in your everyday life to one side, with certain restrictions. To include service dogs, guide dogs, rescue dogs, handicapped assistance dogs or epilepsy dogs, for example. The training of the animals is very extensive and usually starts as early as puppy age.

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Animal-assisted therapy in care for the elderly

Visiting dogs in nursing homes to enable the residents in groups or individual lessons, to foster conversations, or to improve the General well-being. In the group of the presence of the animal can be used to train the memory of elderly people. You can talk generally about dogs, or, for example, asked how the family dog was named from your Childhood, what he ate or what colour was the coat. In individual sessions with a dog can be used for distraction, increase of self-esteem, a stimulus for communication or for relaxation. Clients, who are otherwise drawn to be more passive and back, walks, or to motivate by Playing with the visiting dog, small movement exercises. Often, the dogs, the Pets of the employees or the management, their Suitability is checked in a test phase, before they come regularly in the nursing homes.

Visiting or therapy dogs but can also come to your members home. Many care and support services now offer regular visits with the four-legged friends. The positive effects are the same as those that can be in a nursing home. In some institutions, a voluntary visit to the dogs is already an integral part of the care offer.

Visiting dogs can of course assume no therapeutic or nursing work. The effect of their presence is more subtle and supportive. You reassure the client and give them security. An important factor for this is that the communication between man and dog works in a different way and acts as the between seniors and carers. Especially in the case of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, in which the contact is often very difficult, resorted to the help of four-legged friend. While the client interacts with the dog inter, he is also the maintainer of available. Dogs are calling the people to attention, to take alone contact and build an emotional bridge to the people. In addition, be distributed to the Pet dogs hormones of happiness. So a visit to the dog support by his presence alone the therapeutic Situation, without the need for a training is absolutely necessary.

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What dog breeds are suitable?

Basically, there are no dog breeds that are suitable as a visit to the dog’s particularly good or bad. What is decisive is the nature and character of the animal are much more. Important attributes of the basic obedience, an above-average load-carrying capacity as well as a friendly and people-oriented beings. The dog should have the engine in addition to a strong game.

Also in the case of therapy dogs, this breed is not relevant, but it is still mostly a Retriever or a different shepherd and hunting dogs that are specially bred for this task. With the help of puppy tests, the breeder determine early on which of the animals in question. Up to the time of delivery to the subsequent therapy dog candidate, you are then faced with different situations, to check your Suitability. The intensive Training in the framework of the training the dogs to prepare specifically for their future tasks.

Hunde in der Altenpflege: Hilfe oder Last?

Retrievers are particularly well suited as therapy dogs; © jessica lohmann /

Dogs in the 24-hour-care: Could be the pet?

The 24-hour care is subject to, of course, conditions other than the hourly care or care in a nursing home. Since the visitation and therapy dogs are bound to their respective owners and leaders, they can be used around the clock in the 24-hour on-site support.

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If the persons concerned have a pet, you can no longer take care of themselves due to their own high care is appropriate, represents a very different question: Can the animal despite the use of comprehensive care services in the home, or it must necessarily be transferred to a new owner or a shelter? Since your dog has the active and beneficial properties of a visiting dog, it can be extremely important that the usual life companion remains on the side of his master or mistress. The Take-away of the animal in a home for the elderly is in most cases not possible. Can stay on the dog so if a 24-hour caregiver living in the same house?

In General, it is definitely possible that the dog can stay in the budget. The Feed Gas is assumed as an additional task of the caregiver. However, it is essential that this aspect is agreed in advance with the procuring Agency and the requirement is registered. This is important, since otherwise, under certain circumstances, a nurse is engaged, the fear of dogs or an animal hair Allergy suffers. So may, ultimately, be guaranteed that the nurse profession, and the dog can take care of without you even have to suffer the extra effort.

Hunde in der Altenpflege: Hilfe oder Last?

The caregiver feeds the dog and goes for Walks with him; © M. Großmann /

The 24-hour-care is a good Alternative, if you are in need of care has pair a pet, he or she is unable to separate. If you are looking for a caregiver from Eastern Europe, you can obtain here a free quote.