Animals of all kinds have become increasingly common in the treatment of
individuals with dementia related disorders. Animal-assisted therapy or zoo therapy has been used in the care of adults and elderly people for years. We see verification of this approach when we see how our residents are excited to see and interact with animals any time they visit the Village.
Although animal therapy does not constitute a cure, it is a recognized and effective therapeutic process. Interacting with animals can provide our residents with a sense of psychological and physical well-being.
The kind of obstacles faced by those with dementia include apathy, irritability, restlessness, depression, difficulty engaging in social activities, and the risk of loneliness and isolation. Due to the anxiety that social situations can cause in dementia patients, it is not uncommon for residents to avoid social situations altogether. This can include interacting with friends, family and loved ones.
Many individuals with Alzheimer’s, who respond to little or nothing else in their environment, will respond to the presence of a therapy animal. Animals provide a natural and easy conversation topic for dementia patients who often feel uncomfortable when they are in social situations. Studies have shown that dementia patients will eat more after visiting with an animal. Spending time with an animal has been correlated to lower blood pressure and increased odds of survival after a heart attack.
Dementia residents recognize a pet in their environment as friendly and non-threatening. When they have a pet near them, studies show, they display more interactive behaviors although these behaviors are often directed toward the pet rather than their human companions.
Dogs have proven to reduce agitation and increase pleasure just by their
presence. They also have the ability to increase the amount of physical activity a resident participates in. Depending on the mobility of the patient, they may be able to engage in playful activities with the dog, take it on a short walk, or simply take the time and effort to groom the animal. Zoo animals are great for bringing back memories and sparking conversations
among friends in our neighborhoods.
North Woods Village will continue to introduce different animals in a way that our residents feel safe and can get excited about our animal friends coming to visit. Each month our residents will have an up- close look and in some cases will be able to touch our zoo friends. Our dogs will continue to visit and enjoy our residents as well.
If you have any questions about bringing your pet in for a visit, please contact Renee Provost for more details.