An Ohio man and his 92-year-old grandmother want to help people with Alzheimer's and dementia during these holidays. Ross Smith and his comedy companion, his own grandmother, who is called "Granny", visited four different facilities for seniors in Ohio last week and brought a very special gift: the puppies.
Smith and Granny are a viral comedy duo who started producing funny videos together five years ago. The couple has become "best friends" since they started creating videos together, Smith said. "We're just trying to spread all the positivity we can (…) it also makes us happy," he told CBS News.
This year, they decided to use their comedy talents, and their puppies, to brighten the holidays of people living with Alzheimer's and dementia.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, about 1 in 10 Americans over 65 have the disease and the risk increases with age. While Smith says that his own grandmother is not affected by him, he thought it was the perfect cause for the duo to focus on him.
"It was about time I came up with an idea to use this voice we have and give back," Smith said. "A lot of people came up and said they can not talk to their grandmother and grandfather anymore because they have dementia and live indirectly through us." Smith said that this inspired his visit to the housing facilities for the elderly.
Smith told CBS News that people responded very well to puppies. "What I learned is that people affected by Alzheimer's disease and dementia are not very receptive," he said. "But with animals and music, they really have old memories that come back and hit them hard."
"So, when I go into these rooms and talk to people … you can say that they have been affected by this disease, but when you give them a puppy, it's like a radio silence and they are very concentrated. . "
The puppies were loaned to Smith and Granny by Petland, a local pet store in Lewis Center, Ohio.
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, when the couple entered the nursing home with a group of puppies, the faces of the elderly patients were immediately illuminated.
Smith produced a video of his visits and posted it on Thanksgiving. He says he wants people with Alzheimer's and dementia to know that they are not forgotten, especially on vacation.
"[People] "Forget about people when they're old," Smith said. "We want to give everything we can to those who do not have families for holidays or who do not have a home or who have difficulties remembering vacations."
Smith's now viral video shows patients huddled with several different dog breeds. Some of the patients felt so comfortable with the puppies that they were asleep to sleep.
Grandma was also around to cheer people up with a joke. "You are a perfect couple," he told a woman with a puppy. "Did you meet in Tinder?" she joked
The grandmother is constantly making jokes and making jokes in the videos of the social networks of her grandson. In fact, it has become famous for them. Smith says he and Granny have more than 19 million followers on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
He and Granny first visited patients with dementia in June and decided to do it again this holiday season. This time, they left behind a lasting gift.
"We partnered with a pillow maker in Chicago and we said that we are going to take an exact photograph of each puppy and that we are going to make a custom cut pillow," he said. "And we're going to give these pillows to people when we leave so they have something to hold on to."
Smith said the puppies' pillows were a success, and his video shows that. Each person was given a pillow that looked exactly like the dog they just hugged.
He said the duo plans to do this again during the holiday season and then continue throughout the year. Smith said that anyone who wants to help can buy their own pillow from The Custom Pillow. The company partnered with Smith so that for each pillow sold, a free to the cause of Smith and Granny.
"It all started as a small idea to return and use our platform, inspire people to do good," Smith said. "We want people to be remembered and loved throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season, we want them to feel cared for."