Those with Dementia Benefit from Pet Therapy

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Research has shown that people with dementia benefit physically, emotionally, socially and mentally from a connection between humans and animals.  Whether they are a furry, feathery or scaly friend, it appears that animals have the ability to trigger memories of a person’s past animals and to help them feel more at ease.

In numerous studies, therapeutic animals have drastically improved dementia symptoms and helped to combat anxiety, agitation, irritability, depression and loneliness.  Experts say that as you “cuddle, stroke and talk to an animal, your body releases endorphins as well as other feel-good hormones such as oxytocin, prolactin and dopamine. This helps lower blood pressure, relieve pain, and foster a sense of calm and joy.”

Many people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia lose the ability to initiate and maintain social relationships as the disease progresses.  Dr. Mara Baun, a professor and associate dean for research at the UNMC College of Nursing has extensively studied the psychological benefits pets provide to those with Alzheimer’s disease.  In her research, she found that when a therapy dog visited patients with dementia, residents were less “disoriented, wandered less and were less likely to be aggressive.”

Dr. Baun says that dogs are the classic example of an animal’s unconditional love and therapy dogs offer a missing element of physical and social contact.  In fact therapy dogs will approach a resident with dementia regardless of their physical or mental deterioration.  They provide a distraction from the person’s agitation as the dogs allow the person to pet, hug and interact with them.

At MorningStar of Sparks, we strongly believe in the power of animals’ unconditional love and periodically bring in animals to visit with our memory care residents.  Every day our house dog Willow, an adorable Godden Doodle, brings a smile to residents and staff alike.  In addition to our loving, compassionate memory care, MorningStar of Sparks also offers independent and assisted living, and in case you wondered, we are a pet friendly community.  Please visit our website to learn more.

The unique mission statement of MorningStar of Sparks, “to honor, to serve, to invest,” sets us apart from other senior living communities. Our foundation is built upon honoring God, valuing all seniors, and investing in staff with a felt calling to serve. Dedicated to creating a real home for residents within a beautiful setting, we encourage you to see for yourself our exceptional offering for independent and assisted living in Sparks NV. 

Source: caring.com/articles/pet-therapy-dementia

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