Animals have been used therapeutically to benefit people suffering from emotional and behavioral disorders for many years. With new advancements, researchers are finding that pets can have many positive effects on those suffering from dementia as well.
Pet therapy is a broad term that also includes animal-assisted therapy for people with Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia. Animal-assisted therapy is performed with a well-trained, certified animal and its handler in which the patient interacts with the animal based on treatment needs, whether playing with, caring for, cuddling, or simply petting the animal. Pet therapy is used to help improve a patient’s mental, social, emotional, and physical functions.
After a dementia diagnosis, one can notice symptoms like apathy, irritability, restlessness, depression, and changes in mood in your loved ones. The elderly also tend to avoid situations involving social contact and interaction because of anxiety, which leads to loneliness and frustration. Additionally, people with dementia may lose the motivation to maintain physical health and sometimes neglect their basic daily activities such as eating or personal hygiene.
As many pet owners admit, just being around an animal can be soothing. It’s no secret that a few hours with an animal can brighten anyone’s mood. When left with wagging tails and sloppy kisses, it’s just too hard not to smile. And as George Eliot once said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
This is the idea behind pet therapy for people with dementia; Animals, by their nature, are non-judgmental and compassionate, making them the perfect therapists and companions for individuals with dementia. Whether it’s a big floppy dog, a cat, a bird, or even a fish aquarium, the benefits of having a pet for one with dementia are numerous. They can provide a person with a dementia diagnosis unconditional love and a tremendous source of social support.
Here are some benefits of pet therapy to help with elderly care for individuals diagnosed with dementia –
1) Physical activity –
Pets such as a dog or a cat help motivate seniors to be involved in physical activity. Petting, walking, and playing with them provide a fun, soothing activity that seniors can enjoy.
2) Communication outlet – Many People living with dementia have difficulty communicating and, as a result, can easily get frustrated. Pets communicate more deeply, which those living with dementia can understand and appreciate.
Pets form a very special bond with humans, and that bond can be very fruitful for people with a dementia diagnosis. It has also been seen that people with dementia see pets as being non-threatening, and they also tend to display more interactive behaviors. Pet therapy also helps lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety because of its calming effects. They produce a chemical chain reaction in the brain that helps to lower the levels of stress-inducing hormones; cortisol and helps in increasing the production of feel-good hormones serotonin.
4) Enjoyment – They also help with boredom and provide a distraction from their routine.
5) Sense of purpose – Being or planning to be a pet caregiver and nurturer at an older age gives a sense of being wanted and needed. It gives your loved one a reason to get up in the morning and make their day bright and full of laughter. It’s possible to be happy when your day starts with a dog wagging his tail or a purring cat waiting for your attention. A pet helps bring routine to your loved one’s life and gives them a sense of responsibility.
6) Reminiscence – Pets can also help invoke feelings of joy, happiness, playfulness, and old memories in a person diagnosed with dementia. Being involved with a pet also helps to reminisce about the pets they once had.
There are numerous benefits of animal interactions for a person diagnosed with dementia but there are a few things that should be kept in mind while dealing with animals. Pets require care, proper maintenance, and supervision, especially around the elderly. Pet ownership is a great responsibility, and everyone may be unable to shoulder the responsibility of caring for a loved one with dementia.
Some people with advanced dementia could enjoy the company of an animated toy animal. These interactive toys will make noises in response to your loved one’s touch and also move. One can incorporate animals in treating dementia and related disorders in many ways. The primary goal of this therapy is to enrich your loved one’s life, provide them with opportunities for joy and improve their quality of life.
If pet therapy isn’t a suitable avenue for enhancing the well-being of your loved one diagnosed with dementia, consider exploring the comprehensive elder home care services offered by Samvedna Care. Recognizing that every individual has unique needs, Samvedna Care provides a range of personalized solutions designed to enrich the lives of seniors. From companionship and assistance with daily activities to specialized programs that stimulate cognitive abilities, Samvedna Care offers a holistic approach to senior care. With a team of dedicated professionals and a deep commitment to enhancing the quality of life for seniors, Samvedna Care is a trusted partner in ensuring your loved one’s comfort, safety, and happiness throughout their aging journey.