There are many different ways that pets enhance our lives. This is especially true for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Pets can help dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in many ways. The love of a furry friend can often turn a terrible day into one of joy for many patients.

Here are some benefits from the interaction between pets and dementia and Alzheimer’s patients:

  • The calming effect of petting an animal is known to lower blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Interaction with animals can reduce the hormones that cause stress.
  • Pets can boost the feel good hormone; seratonin.
  • The love of a pet can help to decrease anxiety and depression
  • Holding a pet, or caring for a pet can provide a patient with a sense of purpose.
  • When there are pets around, the patient will feel like they are more “at home”.

Some things to consider before introducing pets to a dementia or  Alzheimer’s patient:

  • Be very aware of the pet’s temperment. Too much barking or jumping will probably do more harm than good.
  • Don’t make the visits too long. Sometimes over stimulation is not a good thing.
  • Be patient. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are unpredictable. One day may prove to be great, but the next day they may not want anything to do with their four legged friend.
  • Consider the time of day for the visit. Mornings may be best before the patient tires later in the day.
  • Think about the care the pet may need and source outside support if you don’t have the time yourself or know that your senior will need help caring for the pet.

As families and caregivers, it may be worth considering how you can incorporate a pet into the life of you loved one. Maybe only for short visits from time to time initially to help them. Then see how it makes sense for the pet to become a regular part of their life.

Since this month is Alzheimer’s Awareness month, we wanted to share this original article that inspires the idea of having pets with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. This story is such a good example of providing purpose to seniors lives.