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How Pet Therapy Helps People with Dementia Live Engaged, Happier Lives

senior with black cat sitting on a couch in a senior apartment

Throughout the years, many studies have shown the countless ways pets can positively impact a person’s quality of life. But particularly for seniors living with dementia, having pets or engaging in pet therapy can offer tremendous benefits. 

Animals aren’t judgmental and have unconditional love for the people around them. This kind of support makes it easy for individuals in dementia care to form positive bonds with animals during pet therapy, making living with dementia or Alzheimer’s a little easier. 

4 Benefits of Pet Therapy for Dementia Care

Through the use of pet therapy,  many dementia care programs take advantage of the special relationship between animals and humans through structured sessions. Animals just seem to know when a person needs a little extra attention. 

Pet therapy’s many research-based benefits for individuals with dementia include: 

1. Improved Mood According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 40% of people living with Alzheimer’s disease also suffer from significant depression. Pet therapy has decreased anxiety and sadness in aging adults and has actually increased physical activity and positive feelings.

2. Decreased Behavioral Issues Whether through pet therapy or pet ownership, it’s been proven pets can help decrease aggression and agitation in older adults living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

3. Boosted Physical Activity Levels Pets, especially puppies, are lively creatures. They love playing fetch, going for walks, or being petted. These things encourage individuals in dementia care to stay active and feel a greater sense of purpose.

4. Improved Nutrition When living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, maintaining a healthy diet and appetite can be challenging. One study by the Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders journal has proven that having a fish tank in or around where residents ate improved food intake and led to a healthier weight for participants. 

While owning a pet has its benefits for individuals with dementia, even partaking in regular pet therapy sessions is enough to reap the numerous health benefits, including improved overall quality of life. Animals may be able to provide comfort while also helping to alleviate or help people cope with symptoms of various conditions, including Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

Horizon’s Memory Care at Oaks Senior Living

At Oaks Senior Living Communities, we take a unique approach to memory care. Through our Horizons specialty memory care neighborhood, we take great efforts to support the needs of residents living with dementia or other memory impairments. As a pet-friendly community, we encourage residents to benefit from the unconditional love and support a pet provides. 

For individuals who don’t have a pet, all our Oaks Senior Living communities offer dynamic pet therapy using proven methods to help dementia care residents reap the benefits of being around animals. Each Oaks Senior Living community has a house pet, fish aquarium, and an aviary with singing, vibrant birds. Through the pet therapy program at Oaks Senior Living, the goal is to create a home-like atmosphere that improves a person’s quality of life. 

Through individualized, compassionate care, our Horizons lifestyle directors and care partners work to ensure every resident receives frequent socialization, stimulation and independence, regardless of their level of cognitive functioning.

Interested to discover more about Oaks Senior Living’s memory care? Contact us to learn more or get answers to all your memory care questions and schedule a visit. 

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