A Pharmacist and Dog in Tow Are Alzheimer's Patients' Best Friends

By Levy, Sandra | Drug Topics, November 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

A Pharmacist and Dog in Tow Are Alzheimer's Patients' Best Friends


Levy, Sandra, Drug Topics


Editor's note Peggy Memoli, Pharm.D., is one of three recipients of Eisai's hhc (human health can) award for the contributions they have made to improving the care of Alzheimers disease patients. Memoli represents the long-term care setting. Recipient Anne Salomon, R.PL, was featured in Drug Topics' Nov. 5 issue. Cincinnati educator Robert Cluxton, Pharm.D., MBA, will be featured in our Dec 10 issue.

If you see Peggy Memoli, Pharm.D., walking her Labrador retriever Bullet, it is more likely that they are on their way to work rather than out for a leisurely stroll. Memoli and Bullet provide therapy to Alzheimers patients at Wesley Heights Village Residential and Dementia Care Facility and Bishop Wicke Health Care Center. Both facilities are located in Connecticut.

Memoli, who has 20 years of experience in long-term care, is certified in dementia care and geriatric pharmacy and has a specialty in psychiatry. "I think mere is a tremendous need for understanding dementia care, because it is not the same as long-term care," Memoli said. "It is somewhere in between palliative care and long-term care."

Having started her career as a hospital pharmacist reviewing patients' charts in long-term care facilities, Memoli said, "Early in my career, I worked in emergency medicine, and I dealt primarily with the elderly. I knew that dementia patients loved to touch things."

Memoli explained that when Alzheimer's patients are in the latter stages of dementia, they are very much into touch. "They've lost the physical ability to do much else," she said. "They may not be able to feed or dress themselves, but the physical touch of another person or an animal is a very comforting thing to them."

Memoli, who has three Labrador retrievers, felt that Bullet had the perfect disposition to provide therapy to patients. She and Bullet received pet therapy training from Pet Therapy International. "I took her in to work with the residents, and they formed a relationship with her just as they would if they had a dog of their own," she said. "They looked forward to her coming back They get excited, and when she comes up to them, they'll say her name is Bullet They'll remember certain things about her that they won't necessarily remember about their own children. …

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