Sep 20, 2012

An Alzheimer's service dog?

There are service dogs for the blind, the deaf, even dogs that sound a warning when their owner's blood sugar drops or a seizure is immiment.

The newest addition to the slate of man's best friends: the Alzheimer's service dog.

Rick Phelps of West Lafayette, Ohio was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease at age 59.  According to a recent story in the Coshocton, Ohio Tribune, Rick was given a service dog shortly after his diagnosis. The 14-month-old German shepherd named Sam has greatly helped him, Phelps says. Sam has eased his owner's anxiety and also given Phelps' wife peace of mind when she is at work.Sam can also perform some other remarkable tasks for Phelps, including:
  • Alert Phelps if he leaves the car running in the garage
  • Find Phelps' car in a parking lot if Phelps forgets where it's parked
  • Nudge Phelps' shoulder if he forgets to put on his medication patch at bedtime
  • Can find Phelps if he wanders, within a 40 mile radius
Obviously an owner must properly care for his dog, so having a service dog is realistic only for those with early to mid-stage Alzheimer's. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that there are over 5 million Americans with the disease, and millions more family members and caregivers touched by it.  The Alzheimer's service dog is an idea that may well gain in popularity.

To read the original article about Phelps and his service dog, click here.

To find out how to prepare legally and financially when you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, click here

To find out more about tapping into Medicaid and Veterans benefits to protect your assets from the cost of long-term care, click here

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