NORWALK, Conn. — Geriatric care manager Joan Blumenfeld of Norwalk has a trusty assistant she takes with her to visit many of her elderly clients, and he can perform a perfect arabesque.
It’s her snow-white Maltese named Bromley. He is a certified pet therapy dog who she said can do "a whole bag of tricks” in addition to his dance talents.
“I’d say we make a great team,” Blumenfeld said. “He is the accompaniment to the more serious business of care management.”
As a geriatric care manager, Blumenfeld orchestrates the care of elderly people, whether they are in their homes or at the hospital. Blumenfeld is also a certified psychotherapist and licensed counselor, so part of her job is to build relationships with her clients.
She and Bromley are often able to work together to make that happen. For example, at about the time Blumenfeld adopted Bromley, she had a client who used to raise and breed dogs for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Before she passed away, the woman appointed herself as Bromley’s grandmother.
“We gave her a sense of herself and importance, and she gave me lots of advice,” Blumenfeld said. “Nobody had probably asked her that advice in 25 years.”
Many of the elderly people Blumenfeld works with have dementia and might have trouble speaking. If clients wish to have a visit from Bromley, he will sit in their laps and perform his tricks. Blumenfeld said he also provides a little unconditional love, which makes a big difference to people.
Blumenfeld will soon be able to do a few tricks of her own. She has been learning to tango, waltz and foxtrot at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Norwalk and will be competing in a regional competition this summer in Mystic, CT.
“I told them, I want to dance as much like Ginger Rogers as possible,” said Blumenfeld.
Click here to visit Joan Blumenfeld's website.