Personal Stories: Critterish Allsorts

I am involved in the Dementia community, as a complementary therapist. I visit care homes and sufferers in their own homes. I work in both group and one-to-one sessions helping dementia sufferers with their symptoms. My form of therapy is animal assisted therapy. I visit with a mix of animals hoping to spark memories and help with other symptoms such as lack of joint movement, speech issues, and other neurological issues. I do not have dementia, but I do suffer with Parkinson's Disease and am therefore more likely to suffer with dementia as I grow older.

Our work within care homes was featured in a BBC documentary (Animal Saints & Sinners) We were also called in to 5 News to be interviewed about the affects of animal assisted therapy on children. The animals most utilized by our dementia clients are Beanz the dog, Stoosh the Skunk and Moshi the Tortoise. Tortoises were once very popular pets in the UK (between 1960 and 1980) and therefore tortoises bring back memories to people who were either children or parents at that time. Most houses had a tortoise back then, they could be bought for a pound and were kept in the garden and hibernated in airing cupboards over the winter. Presenting a dementia patient with a tortoise, can result in recollections and lucid conversations about their memories of pet tortoises. It really is a wonderful thing to see.

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