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Benefits of Pet Therapy for Dementia Patients

There’s a new phenomenon circling through the aging healthcare community: those who are living with dementia are finding a new lease on life through pet therapy. By spending time with a furry friend, patients are reaping massive health and wellness benefits.The following are just a few benefits of pet therapy!

Improved Mood

Being around small animals can cause an improved mood in dementia patients. There is anecdotal evidence that dogs emit both a sense of calm and joy. In fact, there is a scientific reason that we feel happy around animals. This is because interacting with animals causes a massive release of the hormones oxytocin and serotonin. These two substances bring literal happiness into our lives, combatting stress and harmful combattants. Thus, dementia patients can find a major improvement in their mood after a session with a furry friend.

A Sense of Calm

Pet therapy has been found to promote a sense of calm for those living with dementia. The aforementioned releases of oxytocin and serotonin work together to lower stress levels. These lowered stress levels can bring a sense of peace within the patient.

The feeling of peace often corresponds with an internal lessening of blood pressure. In fact, a 2014 study conducted by the National Library of Medicine found that seniors who underwent pet therapy reported lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.

Improvement in Nutrition

Surprisingly, spending time with animals can actually help dementia patients eat better. This is because there is a scientific correlation between pet therapy and improved nutrition. A study featured in the U.S. Library of Medicine National Institute of Health unpacked this correlation. They found that certain senior residents ate more after exposure to animals. The study also found that the seniors were even able to put on weight with continued exposure.

Reduction in Behavioral Issues

All of the above benefits coalesce to this final one: pet therapy can help reduce behavioral issues in dementia patients. This is monumental. For those living with dementia, it can be hard to navigate the day to day. There are disconcerting sounds, confusing environments, and abrasive interactions. This is why many home health networks recommend a centering activity to refocus and recalibrate. Pet therapy can be a centering activity for the patient to focus on. Even more so, it can aid in holistic wellbeing, thus removing some of the interior factors which cause behavioral issues.

If your loved one is in need of help at home, contact a home health aide at Expicare Nursing today!