Could Pets Improve Quality of Life for Those with Alzheimer’s?
We have all been comforted by a pet. Whether it’s a dog, cat, reptile or bird, animals are there for us. Petland knows first-hand the change a pet can make to those with special needs and nursing home residents.
Over 85 monthly pet-therapy visits bring the Petland Inc. community service team to schools, special needs cares facilities, nursing homes and one juvenile detention center. November brings awareness to Alzheimer’s dementia, a disease affecting over 5.8 million Americans. The impact our pet therapy visits have is a night-and-day difference in the mood of those living with Alzheimer’s. Are there other differences pets can bring to those living with dementia?
Can I Pet the Puppy?
Pet therapy is a complementary type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment, and it’s a lot of fun! Studies show pets can cause some awesome changes to those living with Alzheimer’s;
- Improves mood
- Improves social interaction
- Decreases feelings of anxiety and sadness
- Instills sense of calm
- Decreases behavior problems during daytime
- Improves nutritional intake
- Improves awareness and communication skills
- Improves cognitive function
Those are fantastic benefits! Pets are sort of magical. Alzheimer’s patients are at a high risk for depression so improving mood and social interaction are critical.
Not only can pets help Alzheimer’s patients and nursing home residents, pet therapy also benefits caregivers by releasing stress.
One of the biggest impacts pet therapy has on nursing home residents is social interaction, Hannah Mullin, Petland Inc.’s community service specialist, notices.
“Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease and some people lose the ability to verbally communicate with others. It’s not that way with pets. Pet therapy gives patients a bond they may have lost with people.”
On Hannah’s pet therapy visits, she sees how pets change the interaction between a patient and their family.
“My grandma was in a nursing home and passed with Alzheimer’s,” said Hannah. “I know it can be hard to communicate with an Alzheimer’s patient. Pets give families, especially kids, an easy way to bond and laugh with their friend or family member again.”
Is that Snake Real?
Pets of all kinds have been shown to provide emotional support. Petland’s community service team always bring a variety of pets on pet therapy visits.
“You’d be surprised by how popular our ball python is,” said Gabbi Detty, Petland Inc. community service coordinator. “If we don’t bring a snake, we let people down. I’ve had so many great conversations with nursing home residents that had pet snakes growing up.”
What to do for National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
Petland encourages you to spend more time interacting with a friend or family member living with Alzheimer’s, and if you have a pet, bring it along! When you stop by the nursing home, be sure to express your thanks to caregivers and staff.
Make a donation to a reputable organization.