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Seniors and Pets March 15, 2024

The Joy of Pet-friendly Memory Care

By: Country Meadows | Memory Care

Aw, puppies and kittens! There is a reason that the internet is flooded with pics of cute animals. Pets just make people smile. That’s why top retirement communities like Country Meadows offer pet-friendly memory care.

Research has shown that cuddling an animal can release feel-good endorphins such as oxytocin and dopamine (neurotransmitters associated with love, affection and happiness) and lower stress hormones like cortisol. Animal therapy can induce relaxation, lessening anxiety and depression. Physically, cuddling a pet helps lower blood pressure and may even diminish feelings of pain.

How can pet-friendly memory care help a person with dementia?

A recent study has suggested that having a pet may support daily activity and slow the disease progression in Alzheimer’s disease. In the small study, there were significant positive effects on activities of daily living (ADL) functions, neuropsychiatric symptoms and disease progression.

Additional benefits for people with dementia, especially those in memory care facilities, include:

Physical benefits

Having a pet encourages increased physical activity, ranging from simply petting an animal to going on walks. This can stimulate mobility, including balance and gait and improve cardiovascular health.

Cognitive benefits

For people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, animal therapy may help in the recall of memories, particularly ones involving beloved pets from the past.

Social emotional benefits

Whether by walking a pet or participating in group activities with therapy dogs, cats or even horses, animals help spur social connections and promote communication.

Pets can even help provide relief from “sundown syndrome,” that period of day when dementia patients may experience increased agitation, restlessness, disorientation and aggressive behavior.

Virtual pets for memory care

Sometimes, however, real pets are not an option for those in memory care. For those with dementia who can no longer safely care for a pet, a companion robot pet can still evoke comfort and companionship. Like a real animal, these animatronic dogs and cats bark and purr and snuggle in response to touch. Many memory care facilities offer companion robot pets for residents because unlike live animals, robot pets don’t bite, transmit infections or trigger allergies. Yet, these animal robots can reduce stress and anxiety and decrease the use of psychoactive and pain medications in dementia patients just like their living, breathing counterparts.

Learn more about pet-friendly memory care at Country Meadows

Well-behaved pets are welcome at Country Meadows. Country Meadows Retirement Communities offers memory care at our eight communities in Pennsylvania and one in Frederick, Md. Call our friendly co-workers to learn more or to schedule a tour today!

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