Several months ago, your beloved, senior loved one was diagnosed with dementia. Unfortunately, since this time, your elderly relative’s symptoms have worsened significantly. If you can relate to this scenario, you likely want to do everything in your power to help your loved one thrive, instead of merely survive, with this common, mental health problem. To improve the quality of your relative’s days, consider the following four ways dementia patients can benefit from pet therapy.
Dementia patients face increased risks of developing depression. Thankfully, research suggests pet therapy can improve the moods of those battling this mental health issue. One study introduced animal-assisted activity to 10 people at an Alzheimer day care center. The study revealed:
- Decreased levels of anxiety
- Reduced levels of sadness
- Increased levels of positive emotions
Diminished Behavior Problems
People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often present behavioral problems such as:
- Refusal to accept help
A study conducted on Alzheimer’s patients in an Alzheimer’s Special Care Unit examined the behavior implications of the presence of a resident dog. Those who participated in the dayshift experiment displayed substantially fewer problematic behaviors during the four week study than they did during the week prior to it.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, he or she might not enjoy eating his or her favorite foods anymore. In fact, you might struggle to get your relative to eat anything. Fortunately, pet therapy is associated with enhanced nutrition in dementia patients. In one study, researchers placed stocked aquariums in a facility. Amazingly, the patients consumed more food and gained weight.
Increased Levels of Physical Activity
Has your loved one become less active since receiving a dementia diagnosis? If you have trouble enticing your relative out of his or her favorite chair, animal therapy might help. Your relative may enjoy:
- Brushing an animal’s fur
- Going on a short walk with an animal
- Throwing a ball or Frisbee to an animal
Approximately 47.5 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. This serious mental health issue affects both patients and their caregivers. While no cure exists, utilizing pet therapy might help your loved one cope with the debilitating symptoms of dementia.