If you’ve ever spoken to someone with a service dog, it’s easy to see that these animals change lives. For a veteran returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder, the canine “battle buddy” is there to shine a light on his or her darkest hours. For a child with epilepsy, the family can rest easy, knowing that there is always someone there to lend a helping paw. If you are living with Parkinson’s, a service dog could be a transformative feature in your story.
How a Service Dog Could Make Your Life Easier
Service dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks to assist individuals living with physical challenges, including people with Parkinson’s. Service dogs help to improve their human companion’s independence and well-being, and studies show that the dogs provide a variety of benefits, including:
Encouraging Regular Exercise.
Research continues to highlight the benefits of regular physical exercise for people with Parkinson’s. Service dogs can both encourage and enable more regular exercise.
Service dogs provide more than help; they provide companionship. The mere presence of a service dog can increase social interaction, as people come up to meet the dog and its guardian.
For people with Parkinson’s, service dogs can be trained to perform a variety of helpful tasks, ranging from daily assistance with routine activities to specialized support. Service dogs can help with:
- Enhancing your balance while walking or using stairs, reducing fear and risk of falls
- Mitigating freezing by nudging a leg or gently pulling on a leash
- Providing support while getting in and out of chairs or getting up after a fall
- Retrieving and carrying objects, such as medication bottles or a dropped phone
- Assisting in dressing and undressing by fetching clothes or gently tugging off socks
- Opening doors and turning lights on or off
- Retrieving adaptive equipment or pulling a wheelchair
- Seeking help, pushing Lifeline call button or dialing 911 speed dial
Parkinson’s New Zealand interviewed two American women with Parkinson’s to learn how they interact with and rely on their service dogs’ support daily. Watch the short video to see how these furry companions can improve mobility, restore confidence and foster greater independence.
Things to Keep in Mind When Considering a Service Dog
If you’re interested in getting a service dog to help with Parkinson’s, there are a number of important things to consider.
What should I consider before applying for a service dog?
What should I expect when I apply?
Check Out Organizations in Your Area
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a coalition of nonprofit assistance dog organizations that meet the highest level of standards in training, care, education and advocacy for assistance dogs. The ‘Programs Search’ feature helps you to locate organizations nearest to you. Take advantage of the opportunity to reach out and learn more about this exciting option on your journey to living well with Parkinson’s.
If you or someone you know has a service dog for Parkinson’s, what advice would you or they give to others considering a service dog?