Pet Therapy for Seniors with Dementia

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When a senior is diagnosed with dementia, it’s automatically assumed that it’s impossible for them to keep their pets any longer. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. A sudden diagnosis can be terrifying and difficult. However, before jumping to conclusions, consider the following factors and determine if there are other alternatives to giving up a best friend.

What stage of Dementia the senior is in?

The first thing to consider is at what stage of dementia the senior is in. A person in the early stages is usually more capable of taking care of pets than someone who’s had it for years. However, it’s paramount to analyze their individual circumstance and determine how severe the symptoms are.

What type of pets will be suitable?

The type of pet the person has also plays a role in making a decision. The easier it is to take care of the animal, the more likely it is that the pet will be allowed to stay at home.

Does the pet need a lot of care?

The amount of effort and work needed to take care of the pet has to be kept in mind. If it’s a calm dog or a cat which is low maintenance and doesn’t require much effort, it could be helpful to keep them around. Observe the circumstances the senior is in and assess how easy or difficult it is to provide for the pet.

Is the pet wanted?

This question must be asked of the owner. Though there are several benefits to having pets around, all cases aren’t the same. Sometimes they can also be a source of stress and annoyance for a person who’s suffering from dementia. Be mindful of the wants and needs of both the pets and the owner, and make an informed decision as to what suits everybody’s needs.

Some positive effects that having pets may have:

  • Pets have been known to help with memory, especially with those who’ve owned pets previously.
  • Animals make great subjects for conversation. Everyone loves talking about their pets. Seniors with dementia seem to light up at funny stories about pets that they may have had in the past.
  • Spending quality time with pets can help combat loneliness, anxiety, stress and depression. Animals are great companions who can offer attention and unconditional love. Hence, their closeness can create a healthy environment to live in and also boost self-esteem.
  • Pets help those with dementia feel relaxed and calm. The act of stroking or petting an animal can bring comfort and peace.
  • Animal visits cause bursts of energy and encourage exercise. Seniors with dementia feel more inclined to move about when they spend time with their pets.

Pets provide love and laughter to the lives of their owners. Before having the senior say goodbye, remember that there are other ways to incorporate animal interaction into their life.

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