Robotic dogs help dementia, Alzheimer's patients

Posted at 7:37 PM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-30 11:49:12-04
All was quiet at The Jewish Home and Care Center when TODAY'S TMJ4 arrived. However, when these robotic dogs came out, the residents lit up.
Many residents at the skilled nursing facility have Alzheimer's and dementia. Caregivers at the Jewish Home and Care Center say when Bagel and Lox join them, the robotic dogs bring out hidden personalities.
Beth Draper is a volunteer coordinator at the Center. 
"Sometimes the people are sleeping or kind of inside themselves,” said Draper.  “It brings out their joy and happiness and their feelings of love and some of those things that are missing in their lives.”
Gitel Forman, a resident at the Center, said the dogs make her feel good, different even. They also bring back fond memories.
"I had Skippy and she wouldn't go to sleep until I came home,” said Forman. “When she saw my car going into the garage, she'd go to sleep." 
Hand in Hand Partners in Caring made it possible for The Jewish Home and Care Center to get the dogs. Mary Anne Selby, board chairman, said the robotic dogs aren't like other grants they've given to help improve the residents' experience. 
These dogs cost an estimated $800 each, which Hand in Hand gave through a grant. They often donate items used to stimulate senses for patients with Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Daniela Iannello, an activity coordinator at the facility, said the dogs do just that and keep the residents engaged.
"The dogs are robotic animals but here they feel like family," Iannelo said.
Casey Geraldo reports why these dogs make a difference.