A GUINEA pig has been bringing joy to people living with Alzheimer's.

Care company Home Instead East Dorset and Blandford has been keeping clients entertained with the help of Millie, a guinea pig.

The furry, four-legged creature went to live with 81-year-old Pat, a Home Instead client who used to work in a veterinary practice and is now living with advanced Alzheimer's.

Naomi, from Blandford, works as a caregiver at Home Instead and, after discovering that Pat had a guinea pig when she was younger, came up with the idea to take her own guinea pig, Millie, for a visit.

She said: "When I walked in with Millie, Pat was delighted. She smiled from ear to ear and I put Millie on her chest for a cuddle. Both Millie and Pat were in their element. I took he round a few more times and they really bonded. Millie always snuggled down while Pat chatted to her.

"Seeing the joy that Millie brought to Pat, and vice versa, I thought it would be good for Millie to have a little holiday with her new favourite person. She moved in for a week and every time we got Millie out it was like a whole new experience for Pat.

"We all got to relive the joy over and over again. Pat now remembers the 'little guinea pig that came to stay' and associates her with me which is lovely."

Naomi, an animal-lover herself, has been thrilled to bring Pat such happiness, and thinks it is important to remember the benefits that come from older people owning pets, including responsibility, purpose and company.

She said: "I think we underestimate the impact pets can have on us, especially for those who are vulnerable or living with a condition such as dementia. In that moment, they are able to live entirely in the present without any outside pressures of feeling like they have to gold a conversation. They feel joyful and it is special to share that opportunity with my clients - if only Millie knew the difference she makes."

For more information on Home Instead East Dorset and Blandford, visit www.homeinstead.co.uk/east-dorset-blandford/