8 Ways Pets Can Benefit Those With Alzheimer’s

Pets can provide a wealth of benefits to those struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. Their loving, carefree personalities can help ease fears and alleviate stress among their human counterparts. More and more often, pets are appearing in Alzheimer’s care facilities, helping improve the lives of those they meet. Here are some of the benefits pets can bring to those who could use a positivity boost in their life.

8. Improve Appetite and Nutrition

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A four-legged friend — or even a friend with fins — can help give those with Alzheimer’s a nutritional boost. Studies have shown that having pets around can help improve nutritional intake: a person with Alzheimer’s tends to eat more, and even gain a little weight, when an animal friend is nearby.

7. Provide Company

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A pet gives a person with Alzheimer’s another soul to care for and associate with, reducing loneliness. This companionship can help mitigate some of the negative effects of dementia and enhance their quality of life.

6. Reduce Anxiety and Depression

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Just as pets can reduce the loneliness of a person with Alzheimer’s, they can also reduce anxiety and depression. The arrival of a pet into the room can prompt a mood lift, even if only temporarily. Who can feel down when an enthusiastic furry friend is nearby to give love?

5. Increase Exercise and Physical Activity

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Pets, especially dogs, tend to help their human friends be more physically active. For those who are still able to maintain mobility, a frisky pet provides a good reason to get out of one’s chair. Dogs always enjoy a short walk, even if it is just down the hall.

4. Boost Social Interaction

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Pets can be a way to overcome some of the social hurdles those with Alzheimer’s may face. A pet can serve as a conversational icebreaker in social settings and help promote engagement with others. What may begin as simply socializing over one’s pet could lead to more and more human interaction.

3. Promote Better Health and Behavior

Photo: Max Pixel
Owning a pet has been associated with lowering one’s risk of heart disease and reducing blood pressure. One study found that having a resident dog in an Alzheimer’s special care unit over a four-week period helped decrease behavioral problems among Alzheimer’s patients during the day.

2. Bring Joy

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A pet can easily bring joy to those with Alzheimer’s who too often experience isolation, fear, and uncertainty. A playful kitten or a little doggy grin can make all the difference in a day.

1. Improve Quality of Life

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Basically, one little furry friend can have a big impact on the well-being of a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Pets have the potential to simply make their life better — whether it’s to benefit your loved one physically, emotionally, or socially.

Animals are becoming an integral part of the lives of those with Alzheimer’s. While they can prove to be indispensable at times, care workers need to be aware of any safety issues pets may pose. Make sure someone is on hand to help properly take care of any animals visiting those with Alzheimer’s. Four-legged animals can be a tripping hazard to Alzheimer’s patients. A pet’s temperament and energy level needs to be monitored, as does the mood of your loved as the two interact. Be aware of any allergies your loved one may have to certain animals. Keep pet visits supervised and short, and both your loved one and their furry friend should be able to effectively help each other.

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