Participating in a Connected Horse workshop provides unique opportunities for people living with early stage dementia and their care partners. It’s a time to be together and experience non-riding activities with horses. By experiencing the power of the human-horse connection participants feel relaxed, confident, and happy. Learning self compassion, stress reduction strategies, communication and awareness practices is the goal.
Connected Horse was founded in 2015 by Nancy Schier Anzelmo and Paula Hertel. Both horse lovers and are professionals in senior and dementia care in addition to gerontology. Their nonprofit is committed to the belief that horses can provide humans with valuable insights into the healing process.
As a result, workshop attendees find a reconnection with the spouse they used to know, reawakened childhood memories or simply, exactly what the doctor ordered. Having a purpose is crucial for all people. But, providing that sense of purpose gets more difficult as our loved one progresses with their disease.
It’s also important to give both people a chance to reconnect. This program has utilized a lot of research to allow them to give the participants the best possible outcomes. For example they’ve measured stress reduction and life indicators for those living with the disease. This research is ongoing with Stanford and UC Davis.
Speaking with Paula and Nancy was very eye opening. I’d dare say almost inspiring. Watching the person I knew as my Mother disappear, unable to do even simplified activities is devastating. It’s too late for us to reconnect, she’s far from the early stages of her disease. However, I can see how she would have enjoyed a program like this. Getting her there may have been the biggest challenge however.
Reducing Stigmas & Gaining Support
Most importantly is reducing the stigma attached with this disease. We’ve done it with others like cancer and Aids, now we need to do it for Alzheimer’s. As a result of reducing stigmas. more people will seek out programs that help them.
Above all, learning about the support and programs available will go a long way in helping. Having Alzheimer’s is bad enough, consequently we need to learn all we can.