I read an interesting article at the 'Unforgettable' website this week, about how useful companion pets can be for those people suffering memory loss and dementia, particularly with regard to restlessness.
It suggests that pets are very settling and calming in restlessness, and that if the animal can't be a real one for some reason, then maybe a robotic pet (such as a cat that purrs, or a teddy that plays a message or music) can be of help.
I've got mixed feelings about this and I wonder what others think.
I can absolutely see that an already beloved and familiar pet may be calming, but brings other issues, like who takes care of it, and whether it could be yet another trip and fall hazard to someone with declining memory, or a nuisance to an already overworked carer.
On the other side of the coin, I know how sentimental I can be about things like teddy bears and I love my little collection of them to bits. I've often threatened them with the charity shop, but actually I am quite emotionally attached to them in some obscure way.
But it was my conscious choice to have them, and as this article points out, some people think it could be seen a bit demeaning and condescending to give the victim of dementia, what amounts to a stuffed toy for companionship and comfort. In one way it could be seen as a method of introducing perpetual childhood, and that's the sort of thing I remember from my own young life, when sometimes, intellectually challenged people would be dressed as children through their adult life and given toys 'to keep them quiet'.
Then again, if it works and gives carers and sufferers some relief, is it wrong after all?
I can't fully make up my mind on this and I wonder what others feel about it?