While no cure currently exists for Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, there’s copious research to support the positive impact of animal therapy on Alzheimer’s patients. The Alzheimer’s Association, in discussion with The Mercury News, cited several studies evaluating the effects of regular interaction with both robotic and living animals.
The studies in question noted marked improvements to patients’ mood and capacity to interact with other people following their engagements with pets. These interactions also helped calm dementia-related behavioral issues and encouraged more physical activity in study participants.
Elderly people in the early or mid-stages of dementia may also derive social and emotional benefits from assisting with pet care. Caring for another living being provides companionship and a sense of purpose in the midst of what is typically a profoundly isolating disease. Performing tasks like feeding, grooming, and walking a dog can also boost seniors’ self-confidence and support their independence well into old age.
Of course, the decision to get a pet isn’t one to be made lightly. The Alzheimer’s Association asserts that caregivers should first confirm that the affected person is able to decide for themselves whether or not they want a pet. They also note that individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers should be mentally and financially prepared to manage pet care alongside their other responsibilities.
How Pets Promote Greater Well-Being for Seniors
Caring for pets can be immensely healing for older adults, who often struggle with social isolation and depression in addition to declining physical health. In addition to boosting their mood and providing stress relief, interacting with pets can also encourage seniors to practice healthy habits such as eating regularly and getting more frequent exercise.
Moreover, seniors who live alone may find some relief from loneliness by creating a dedicate space for their dog in their home and outfitting these spaces with custom dog beds, personalized dog blankets, and other items to make them more comfortable.
Want to read more stories about human-animal bonds, animal welfare, and the American pet industry? Bookmark the PrideBites Blog today for all the latest news.