Research supports the fact that service animals can be of great help to a number of different people with varying degrees of disabilities. One of the concerns with an elderly or aging patient who choose to “age in place” is the worry that they have significant mobility issues, which hampers them from doing daily tasks, or the risk of accidents or falls.
There are many types of service dogs, but mobility assistance dogs are a great choice for the elderly or aged, or for those with a significant physical disability. Read on to learn more about specific rules governing mobility assistance dogs in New Jersey, how to qualify for one, and the difference between different types of dogs.
Mobility Assistance Dogs and Other Types of Service Animals
There are different kinds of service dogs (and animals) so it’s best to know a little bit about them to ensure you make the right choice for your patient.
- An emotional support animal is often provided to a person that has significant developmental or mental impairment as part of therapy. These types of dogs and animals can help with cases of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and autism spectrum disorders, among many others. Rules are much stricter governing emotional support animals, but in New Jersey, they are still covered under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and a patient cannot be discriminated against because of one.
- A guide dog is a type of service dog that is to help the deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, or those with low vision or vision loss. This special type of service dog can help with mobility issues but is specifically trained to help the deaf and blind. Like all other types of service dogs, in New Jersey, this type of animal is fully allowed under the umbrella of the ADA.
- A mobility assistance dog is trained specifically to help those with profound physical disabilities or impairments. While this animal may help when it comes to emotional support, it is not their specialty. These dogs can help with many different conditions, including arthritis, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, ataxia and gait problems, and those with loss of limbs or those in wheelchairs.
How Mobility Assistance Dogs Can Help
Because mobility assistance dogs are specially trained, they can help with a lot of different tasks that the elderly and those with mobility problems may struggle with. If you’re wondering, “what does a mobility service dog do,” some tasks include:
- Pushing elevator buttons
- Retrieving items that are dropped
- Carrying shopping bags or objects
- Opening drawers, closets, and doors
- Answering a phone
- Help with dressing and undressing
- Providing support and stability
Depending on the patient’s specific need, your specific mobility assistance dog can be trained to perform other tasks to help with daily living.
How to Qualify for a Mobility Assistance Dog and Other Questions
Very often, patients or caregivers may wonder, “how do I qualify for a service dog?” Anyone with a documented disability is eligible for a service dog. This will require proof by a physician, or the patient can typically show other types of proof, such as a statement from the Social Security Administration if SSI or SSDI is received. It is also possible to register your own dog as a service dog; however, this is a more complicated option when it comes to mobility assistance dogs, as they must be specially trained. It is easier to register your own animal as an emotional support animal (but remember, laws are stricter in public places regarding this).
If you’re wondering how big should a mobility service dog be, the answer is that there are no size limits on service dogs. Any breed and any type/size can be a service dog; the only regulation is that the dog must be registered with the Service Dog Registration of America in order to be legally recognized under the ADA.
For those wondering “how much does a mobility service dog cost,” the answer is roughly $17,000, which is the national average. However, there are many organizations dedicated to ensuring that those who truly need mobility assistance dogs receive one through funding and grants. This is especially true when it comes to service dogs for paraplegics or those with severe developmental disabilities.
For more information on how mobility assistance dogs can help with daily living, or how mobility products such as stair lifts and wheelchair ramps can improve quality of life, please contact Williams Lift Co. today to learn more about what we do.