September is World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign that aims to raise awareness and tackle the stigma that surrounds dementia
Dementia is a truly global issue. An estimated 46.8 million people are effected worldwide, and yet international research into treatment and prevention is severely underfunded.
What is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a brain disorder that triggers a loss of brain function. Currently, there is no cure. Alzheimer's usually effects those over 65, and 70% of people in care homes suffer with some form of Dementia. Symptoms include memory less, confusion and problems with speech and comprehension.
This September is the 6th annual World Alzheimer's Month and events are taking place all over the world to raise awareness. From Breakfast in the Park at Ballantyne Conservancy in Zimbabwe, to Memory Walks in New Zealand, the global community is truly coming together.
Back in Blighty, The Mayhew Animal Home, a London-based animal welfare charity, are doing their bit to help those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.
Recognising the psychological benefit that animals can bring to those suffering with neurodegenerative diseases, The Mayhew Animal Home run an animal therapy programme called TheraPaws. Currently visiting 40 different care homes across 11 boroughs in London, TheraPaws gives residents of care homes the opportunity to spend some time with volunteers and their dogs.
Every year 225,000 people in the UK will develop dementia, the equivalent of one person every three minutes
The positive effect that pets can have on those who suffer with Alzheimer's is well documented, and it’s for that reason that schemes like this one are becoming commonplace in care homes. Many of us have been lucky enough to grow up with pets in the house, and so bringing dogs into care homes may trigger happy memories for the residents, as well as help treat anxiety, depression and loneliness.
The Therapaws scheme depends on volunteers and their dogs to carry out the visits. But this week a very special pup joined the TheraPaw team. To celebrate the 6th annual World Alzheimer’s Month Mayhew called in celebrity dog, Marcel “Le Corgi”. Adored by his 59.8k Instagram followers, Marcel often swaps the camera for therapy dog work.
Marcel and his owner, TheraPaws volunteer Aurélie, made their way to University Hospital Lewisham to spend some time with the residents and raise awareness for Alzheimer’s Month. Marcel was an instant hit with the patients, and was adorned with cuddles, praise and lots of love.
Speaking of Marcel’s visit, Ginnie Adamson, a Dementia Specialist Nurse, said, “Animals have such a positive impact on many of the patients. As well as being a welcome distraction, dogs have the ability to lower anxiety and stress levels and instantly improve your mood.”
The TheraPaws scheme gives the residents something to look forward to, encourages them to get out of bed and to move around, and sparks conversation between residents and volunteers.
But Luke Berman, TheraPaws Project Manager, says there’s two sides to the story: “As well as enhancing people’s lives by helping to reduce social isolation, stress, and unlocking memories and emotions, the imitative also helps animals by raising awareness of the positive effects dogs can have, including promoting respect and compassion towards animals.”
Want to volunteer with TheraPaws? Find out more on their website.