Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Elderly Patients Respond to Be a Tree Materials
We visit (with our therapy dogs) an old age home that has a frail care unit and an Alzheimer’s / dementia unit.
I am so thrilled with what we achieved today with these patients, and half the program we ran today used the photos and material from the Be a Tree program.
Some of the patients who had not talked for a while, explained, albeit very slowly, what they saw from the photos, and some were even able to differentiate the difference between the photo and our own dogs that were present. We used the eyes, legs and fist photos to get the patients to focus on looking and watching the dogs, then relating what they might be feeling if they made a fist and the leg photo to lift and show their feet. We also asked them to tell us things that the dogs have that we as humans do not have – such as a tail. These folks are all in bed or in wheelchairs, and I am over the moon at the response we got from these folks who normally are in a world of their own and are pretty much non responsive.
Click here to find out more about Paws for People
What a wonderful way to use the Be a Tree materials! As many of you know, we don't take dogs into Be a Tree programs for children because it is stressful for the dogs among other reasons. Click here for details about why we don't take dogs in the classroom when we are doing bite prevention education. This therapy dog visit to the old age home is a completely different situation. The dogs are interacting one on one as they are trained to do and are not exposed to a large group of noisy and exuberant children. The dog is not a distraction from the main purpose here, which is to encourage discussion and interaction and not to teach about safety.