When you explore care facilities and nursing homes nowadays, you’ll notice the presence of several animals there. You might see a person petting a dog, a cat doing its rounds, or a parrot entertaining some patients. There are hundreds of published researches stating how useful these pets are to those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of their benefits.
They Keep People Calm
A study from Ohio State University stated that whenever these patients visit farms, they display a more active physical presence. Their energy increases even more whenever they are asked to groom, feed, and bathe horses. The nonjudgmental behavior of horses, the tranquility of the farm, and its smells trigger their peaceful childhood memories, according to experts. Melissa Burns, LCPC, LLC agrees to the statement by saying “It is noted that the Ancient Greeks used horse-assisted therapy as early as 600BC to raise the spirits of the incurably ill.”
They Improve Nutrition
An experiment by a couple of Purdue University researchers started by placing fish aquariums in the rooms of 60 patients with Alzheimer’s. They use these fish aquariums every day for two weeks and then once a week for six weeks to analyze the effects of the presence of these fishes on the nutritional status of the patients.
The researchers saw that their food intake increased slowly in the first two to three weeks and continued doing so in the succeeding weeks. For those six weeks, the patients gained approximately 1.6 pounds, and some were given the green light by their doctors to let go of several of their nutritional supplementations.
They Help With Behavioral Problems
Another research studied the effects of the presence of a resident dog rather than relying on a visiting dog. The researchers started the experiment by measuring the resident’s behavior weeks before the resident dog arrived (the visiting dog still visits the place two to three times a week). The next observation happens four weeks after placing the dog on the unit. Peg Shippert, MA, LPC said “A therapy dog can bring both physical and emotional benefits. The less physical and emotional stress you are experiencing, the more present and receptive you are to therapy, both immediately and over the longer term.” And that what entirely happens.
The results found a significant positive change in behavior in the patients during the four weeks of conducting the study. This claim was backed up by other research studies which stated that their aggression and agitation declined whenever they lived with these pets.
They Improve Memory
The improvement of the memory of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has a direct correlation with the presence of service animals. Those with memory loss often find themselves more engaged with these pets, and they do remember them most of the time. Their memory loss even improves more significantly if they are also pet owners in the past.
They Improve Social Interaction
A group of women with dementia was recently studied while they were living in a nursing home. The researchers observed that their ability to spark and sustain meaningful conversations increases after spending 10 to 20 minutes of their time with cats.
Annie Zenn, MS, LPC explain that “numerous research studies have been undertaken to validate the benefits of animal-assisted activity and in particular the contribution of therapy dogs.” Animals provide large doses of laughter, love, and light to people’s lives every day. However, these pets mean so much more for those people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia since their therapeutic aura improves their condition significantly. These adorable critters can make a difference in the lives of both the patients and their loved ones.