A woman's best friend

Can having a dog in aged care help residents living with dementia?

Retired nurse Rosemary Eagle has had dogs all her life, so when the time came to move into an aged care home, the now 85-year-old wasn’t going to change that.

It was imperative that Rosemary’s beloved dog Crystal move in with her, a request Bupa Aged Care Windsor was happy to accommodate.

“She loves me and I love her, she’s very important to me,” says Rosemary. “I am very honored and pleased to have her (Crystal) in my room, and I’m glad nobody here said to me ‘we don’t take dogs.’”

Rosemary decided to adopt Crystal after being diagnosed with dementia, because she thought having a dog would help her. Rosemary and Crystal have been caring for each other ever since.

“She’s enormously important to me, she’s the most import thing in my life,” says Rosemary.

Research shows that simply having pets around can help to boost health and wellbeing , and the benefits can also be seen socially, emotionally and even cognitively.

“Rosemary takes Crystal to all the exercises and walking groups, to yoga, Crystal absolutely loves yoga,” laughs Dijana.

Simply put Rosemary says “With her (Crystal), I’m a very happy lady, I would be a very unhappy lady without her.”

“I’m delighted to have myself here and I’m doubly delighted to have a dog as well,” she says.

Just like all the other residents at Bupa Windsor, Crystal has a care plan.

“We know what Crystal likes and doesn’t like and which staff members are connected with her.” Dijana says.

It’s all part of Bupa’s person first approach  (or in this case paw-son first) to caring for residents living with dementia.

“Rosemary’s family is extremely involved in the care of the Crystal and they take on a lot of the work with the care of the dog so it’s a joint effort to be able to have Rosemary and Crystal living together,” says Dijana.

Crystal isn’t the only pet at Bupa Windsor. They also have an aquarium and are soon to get a pet bird, as soon as residents cast their vote on the breed.
Living with dementia - Bupa Aged Care

“Rosemary’s family is extremely involved in the care of the Crystal and they take on a lot of the work with the care of the dog so it’s a joint effort to be able to have Rosemary and Crystal living together,” says Dijana.

Crystal isn’t the only pet at Bupa Windsor. They also have an aquarium and are soon to get a pet bird, as soon as residents cast their vote on the breed.

Life is a gift. Take care of it.

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