One-of-a-kind therapy aims to fight memory loss in Irving

Dogs being used as therapy to help memory loss

For many residents at the Silverado Valley Ranch Memory Care Center in Irving, dementia may seem like the end of the road.

But now they’re finding hope just down the road, thanks to a radical new approach.

“I didn’t think it was a crazy idea at all,” Director of Health Services Constanza Pierre said. “I knew that they would actually help with our residents and provide them with some type of purpose.”

Once a week, every week, the residents of Silverado Valley Ranch get some of their best medicine at the DFW Humane Society.

The residents are considered regular volunteers. They make treats for the dogs and deliver them, interact with the pups, and even get a t-shirt out of the deal.

It’s all part of the Nexus program, which works to fight the effects of dementia by showing these residents they still have purpose.

And for many of them, this is it.

“The dogs are good for us,” resident Ruth Avery said.

“There’s just something about the dog when he looks at me and licks my cheek,” said resident Eileen Pabst.

Clearly this type of therapy brightens their day, but what’s most incredible is that it may be doing more.

“It actually has shown in research to slow down that dementia process,” Pierre said.

“It works because science proves that it works, and our research has shown that it works,” said Tommie Curtiss, administrator at Silverado Valley Ranch.

In fact, those studies prove that residents who work with dogs hold on to memories much longer.

So what makes these dogs so effective? To learn that, I had to answer a question.

“Do you go fishing?” Eileen asked.

“I do not,” I answered. “I play basketball.”

“You play basketball,” she responded. “What’s it do for you?”

I told her it makes me feel good, which led her to the point she tried getting across to me the entire time.

“That’s right. And I feel good when I’m around the dog," she said.

It may not be a cure, but it’s a welcome friend on an unknown road.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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