Monday, March 29, 2010

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa, M.D.

I was looking forward to reading this book as I learned of Oscar's uncanny ability to detect the "sweet smell of death" from the July 2007 New England Journal of Medicine article by the author. I wanted to understand Oscar better, but instead ended up learning more about dementia and Alzheimer's debilitating effects on patients and their families.
Oscar, one of the six resident cats, was adopted as a kitten by staff members and lives on the 3rd floor of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island, where Dr. Dosa cares for his advanced dementia patients. When Oscar senses that a resident is facing imminent death, he will jump on the patient's bed and stay with her. This in turn alerts the nurse to contact the patient's family. Sometimes Oscar is the only companion for the dying patient...
This is an informative and touching story about a gifted cat and the heartaches one grapples with when caring for loved ones with dementia. It also reminds me of the comforting presence of our pets.

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