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Therapy with a Wet Nose: The Many Benefits of Pets in Memory Care

Charles Schulz, creator of the beloved Peanuts comic strip famously said, “Happiness is a warm puppy!” Mr. Schulz wasn’t referring to memory care at the time, but he easily could have been.

“Today, various types of holistic activities, including pet therapy, music and art programs, are recognized as legitimate and credible forms of memory care,” says Sam Streater, Program Director of Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. “These social engagement therapies have been shown to provide significant value to loved one’s with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, is now endorsed by leading memory care authorities such as the Alzheimer’s Association and the Mayo Clinic as a result of research findings that demonstrate that dogs, cats and other friendly animals offer several physical, emotional and social benefits to those receiving memory care. Because of these tangible benefits, Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr offers the opportunity for pets to visit and play a role in our memory care programming. 

“We see that pets bring joy to the loved ones in our care and also provides them with a sense of inner peace, calmness and a connection to the world around them that can improve their lives. It is amazing to see what the unconditional love of an animal can do to transform the mood and behavior of a person with memory loss.” 

The Special Bond Between Pets and Humans 

Memory care experts say the healthy relationship between pets and humans is difficult to define in medical or scientific terms; however, the evidence of the benefits are clear. 

Karin Winegar, author of Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform, probably explains the human-pet relationship best. She says, “In their own unique way, pets seem to communicate an unspoken sense of trust, caring and acceptance that is hard for their human counterparts to match. The human-animal bond bypasses the intellect and goes straight to the heart, nurturing us in a way that nothing else can.” 

A Pet’s Loving Touch Offers Multiple Benefits in Memory Care

Memory care research studies have identified an impressive list of the ways pet therapy improves the lives of those with memory loss. These include physical, emotional and social benefits. For example:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Increasing the use of fine and gross motor skills when walking or grooming the animal
  • Decreasing anxiety and depression
  • Decreasing expressions of emotional and physical pain
  • Providing purposeful activity
  • Reducing boredom and apathy
  • Increasing positive social behavior
  • Increasing socialization and verbal and/or nonverbal communication through positive interaction with the animal
  • Providing new opportunities for love, attention and happiness
  • Opportunities to reminisce
  • Opportunities to laugh and enjoy the animal’s behaviors and antics 

Sam adds, “If you are an at-home memory care caregiver, you can also offer pet therapy to your loved one in the home. However, it is very important to make sure the pet is friendly and safe and will enjoy the attention of your loved one.”

You can find additional information on the subject of pet therapy and Alzheimer’s in the article “How Can Pets Benefit Alzheimer’s Patients? This article also includes helpful tips for matching pets with your loved one receiving memory care.

Your Family Resource for Memory Care Information and Support

In addition to being the area’s leading provider of specialized memory care, life-enriching activities, and purposeful living, Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr is also a trusted source of information for area families. We invite you to read our articles and tips http://www.impressionsmemorycare.org/newson a variety of memory care topics including helpful advice for at-home memory care caregivers.   

We also welcome you to call us with your questions and join us for a guided tour of our memory care community at your convenience.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments. 

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family. 

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5404 or contact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.