How These Dementia Patients Are Helping To Save Abandoned Kittens
"There are skills, emotions and needs that do not just leave a person with dementia or Alzheimer's."
This is a classic (and heartwarming) case of “win-win.”
It seems the Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona didn’t have the resources necessary to help all of the kittens in their care, given that they need frequent attention, like bottle-feeding every couple of hours. Meanwhile, patients at nearby Catalina Springs Memory Care in Oro Valley (a facility to help care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s) found themselves with time on their hands along with a desire to feel useful, as we all do. And so the two facilities teamed up! One has the kitties, the other has the people! That’s how the “Bottle Babies” program was born.
According to Good Housekeeping, the seniors recently helped save the lives of a pair of tiny fur balls named Peaches the Buffy and Turtle the Tortie, who checked into Pima Animal Care Center at a mere 7 ounces. After a few weeks of near-constant bottle feedings, the kittens’ weights doubled and they are on their way to a full recovery!
“To some, it may seem peculiar at first, residents who are in need of around-the-clock care themselves, given the task to care for these young kittens,” said Sharon Mercer, the retirement home’s executive director. “But there are skills, emotions and needs that do not just leave a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The desire to give love and receive love remains. The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents.”
The kitten program also has the added benefit of causing patient’s long dormant memories to resurface, like caring for a cat or dog when they were young.
While Care Center resident Thelma Bradfield happily fed a kitten, her memory issues didn’t stop her from recalling how she fed animals while growing up on a farm.
“We had 19 cats,” she said. “We fed them in the barn. This one’s a little baby and needs a bottle.”
No matter what challenges we have in our own lives, there’s no doubt lending a helping hand makes us feel better, especially if it’s helping 7-ounce kittens.
Here’s more on the story.