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Dogs and dementia support

An older man with glasses holding a small dog

A paw-sitive influence

We meet Dave and Louie, a couple of the dogs helping modernise dementia support in the Manchester area.


In February of this year, we spoke to Joanne Gorton, Day Support Manager at Age UK Trafford. She explained how their specialised day support had called upon the services of some dogs to bring some joy to local people with dementia and help them unlock memories of their own pets.

“I thought we’d give it a go as we have some amazing family pets that I knew would be good with older people,” Joanne told us at the time. “And two years on it’s still working out brilliantly.”

“It’s hard to describe the moment when someone’s face lights up and they have that connection with an animal,” continued Joanne. "It helps in many ways."

We were so intrigued to hear about the likes of Dave the chihuahua and Louie the Shih Tzu, and the enthusiastic reactions and recollections they elicit from older people, we decided to pay them a visit to meet them.

Watch our video to witness the connection between the dogs and their loving human pals, and to hear Joanne discussing the importance of interactions like this.

“Chickens are supposed to be great for this kind of things – donkeys too."

Have a read of our first chat with Joanne that inspired this video, and find out more about how dogs were introduced to dementia support at Age UK Trafford. 

Find out more

A canine connection

“Not everyone has a dog anymore because they’re at that age when they can’t spend the time [looking] after [them],” explains Joanne in our video. “You can see how much [the older people] miss that connection, so if we can give that little bit back, to have a little bit of a cuddle and feel nice and happy, then that’s a good thing.”

And what about the cats?

If you're more of a cat person, watch the video of our visit to a cat cafe in Shrewsbury where older people from the neighbouring Age UK Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin are getting to enjoy some feline companionship.

Read more and watch the video

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Last updated: Oct 23 2023

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