5 Ways Pets Can Help Seniors with Dementia
Dementia is a condition that can cause seniors to lose touch with their loved ones and themselves. However, it has often been found that pets introduce an element of love, routine, and fond memories that are good for seniors with dementia. While everyone enjoys a loving pet, those with dementia have a special bond with pets and have more to gain from the consistent positive influence that a pet can bring.
We would like to explore the five unique ways pets can help seniors with dementia.
Why Get a Pet for a Senior with Dementia
A pet can be a great source of comfort and companionship. This is especially true for those living with dementia. For many, pets bring a sense of joy and companionship. They can help counterbalance the feelings of insecurity or loneliness that often comes with dementia.
Getting a pet for a senior with dementia can be a wonderful way to help them reconnect with happiness in a daily and comforting way.
1. Improved Mental Health
Pets provide comfort, companionship, and reassurance to seniors with dementia. The sense of security they provide helps seniors to feel safe. Taking care of pets gives them a reason to engage in daily activities. Studies have even show shown that interacting with animals can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression which are all contributing factors to the dementia experience.
2. Increased Physical Activity
Pets also give your loved one a reason to move around the house and go outdoors. Taking just one walk a day can significantly increase your loved one's physical health and getting sunshine is a known way to help slow dementia progress. Pets help seniors stay physically active, reducing their risk of heart disease, obesity, and many other common senior illnesses.
3. Enhanced Socialization
Pets also give seniors someone to socialize with when friends and family are not around. Pets are a companion in the night, someone to talk to, and a reason to say hello to neighbors when walking near home. They also help with introductions, helping to form new friendships along the way.
4. Increased Focus
Pets also keep seniors with dementia focused and engaged. A pet's constant need for attention and love, and the mental act of playing with a pet, can help seniors remain in the moment and remember to be attentive and loving through most of each day. A pet's need for routine can help seniors with dementia enjoy a routine and help them remain connected in this way.
5. Improved Social Interactions
Pets can also help seniors with dementia interact with others. Playing with a pet can help start new conversations. Sharing a pet's affection or explaining a pet's preferred treats or toys can help seniors interact with people in a positive way.
Pets are Stabilizing and Loving Companions
Overall, pets can be a great source of comfort and companionship for seniors with dementia. They can provide a sense of security and help seniors stay physically, mentally, and socially active. Pets can also help stay focused and engaged.
If you have Medicaid, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) is a Medicaid program that New York offers its qualifying residents. The CDPAP program allows clients to build their own home care system and hire their own caregivers, including friends and relatives as part of a personalized care program. The CDPAP program is also a great choice for many patients living with dementia. Having someone familiar care for a loved one coping with dementia is comforting and reliable for everyone involved.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Director of Patient Services
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.