Four-legged friend helps seniors get adjusted to new surroundings

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The decision to move a loved one into a nursing home can be a tough one. There are plenty of options in the metro area, including a new home that opened in the Northland a few weeks ago. Wexford Place Assisted Living and Memory Support has a staff that welcomes new residents, including one with four legs.

"He pretty much lives here. This is home for him," administrator Charlene Jaeger said.

Jaeger makes rounds with “Riley,” a one-year-old Labrador retriever. Riley was adopted from a program called "Pups Assisting With the Disabled," or "PAWD" for short.

"A lot of the residents have had dogs at home, so it’s a place for them to be able to have memorable moments and remember their pets that they had at home," Jaeger said.

Fifteen residents, most living with memory loss like dementia, are comforted by what Jaeger calls Riley’s "calming" influence on the community.

"We have a couple residents who aren't as comfortable with dogs and he knows to stop and just not go towards them. He knows which residents don't want him around, so he steps back from them," Jaeger said.

Riley, a trained therapy dog, takes care of the residents by alerting staff to any issues they may have. In turn, the residents take care of him.

"Make sure that he gets fed and has water and goes to bed at night and gets some play time outside," Jaeger said.

Riley's only rule? No barking. He knows it's not allowed and isn't afraid to put himself in time-out. Wexford Place Assisted Living and Memory Support is owned by Senior Star. All Senior Star properties have a therapy dog on-site.

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