Veterans with dementia benefit from companion pets.
CHARLESTON, West Virginia (WSAZ) – Pets have been demonstrated to have therapeutic value by bringing joy to people's lives and delivering calming effects in stressful situations, according to research.
Patients with Alzheimer's or dementia benefited from spending time with a robotic animal, according to a recent study from Florida Atlantic University.
Kitty, a new companion pet for Jack Durbin, an Air Force veteran residing in Charleston, is altering his life for the better.
He described him as funny, funny, enjoyable.
The robotic cat seems really real. Purring, meowing, moving, winking, and even rolling over for belly scratching are all examples of cat behavior.
His caretaker, Stephon Harris, admitted that he was initially suspicious of the idea, unsure of what difference it would make.
He's gotten used to it and enjoys it, Harris added. Calms him down, especially around sunset, which for him is between the hours of 2 and 6. It works out for us because we have more time to cook and do other things.
Durbin, according to Harris, was constantly wanting to get up and move around and be on the run.
I couldn't believe the reaction I'd receive from him, Harris remarked, but wow, he's really liking this.
His cat now keeps him grounded and rooted in the afternoons and evenings, making him less worried.
It's definitely priceless, regardless of the cost, because it benefits them tremendously, Harris said. We have no idea what's going on in their heads, but he appears to be content.
Suzanne Luck, the program coordinator for the VA Medical Foster Care Program, argues that long-term placements like this can boost patients' quality of life.
To witness what sort of joy it brought Jack and our other veteran resident here who observed Jack in all of his joy, she said.
Although the companion pets can be costly, they hope to expand the program to include other patients.
Teresa Boyes, Center for Development & Civic Engagement (CDCE) – (Voluntary Services) 304-429-6741, ext. 2952 or Teresa.Boyes@va.gov can help you sponsor a Veteran Companion Pet (cat or dog).
For more information about the VA Medical Foster Home Care Program, click here (va.gov).