Cat Helps Raise Spirits Of Alzheimer’s Patients 

It didn’t take long for the latest resident here in the alzheimers unit at Birchbay Village in Bar Harbor to make new friends. For figaro, a 9-year-old cat, it took him about a day. “He’s a wonderful friend,” says resident Joan Parker, “he’s a sweetheart, no complaints, we don’t hear any complaints.” The 17 pound feline spends his nights curled up and asleep on Parker’s bed.The staff here says Figaro is quick to help out around the place. “He makes rounds just like a doctor would, goes and visits patients,” says CNA Debra Ireland, “he goes to all the rooms, he goes and checks on the residents to see what they’re up to and then he’ll leave the room and go on to the next one. he does that a couple times a day.”Many of the residents here have families who live far away…Figaro has made this place feel a little more like home. “He’s special to the residents because he actually live here,” says Ireland, “they have their own cat, their own animal.”Denise Plano, Director of Health Services, says the introduction of Figaro, along with using some other philosophies, such as the friends approach, has had a signifigant and positive impact on the residents. “We’ve been able to decrease our utilization of anti-psychotic medication, the dosing of that by 84% and we’ve been able to decrease hospitalization rates by about 90%, so just adding the cat and some of those other intervention philosophies really makes a difference.”As for Figaro, he’s found himself a comfortable home for the forseeable future.