Blog: How Man’s Best Friend Can Help Alzheimer’s Patients
Alzheimer’s Disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that affects over five million Americans over the age of 65. It is the sixth leading cause of death in Americans, and the third in older adults. Although there has been much research on the subject, there is still no cure for the cognitive disease. However, science has proven that a furry four-legged pal could ease progression of the disease and improve quality of life in Alzheimer’s patients.
Here are some ways that having a pet can help Alzheimer’s patients.
- Pets Bring Routine: Sometimes, it’s hard for people suffering from Alzheimer’s to know when its day or night, or when they need to complete daily tasks like taking their medicine. However, as anyone with a pet knows, our pets love order and routine. If your dog is fed every day at 5PM, you know he will start barking at 5:01. This provides a sense of time and order for Alzheimer’s patients. If he or she feeds the pet every day at the same time, it provides structure and can promote cognition. The pet’s dinner time can also be related with the patient’s dinner or medicine time, and encourage the brain to make these associations.
- Pets Encourage Exercise: Exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and also works as great therapy for those that suffer from it. An hour of exercise about three times a week can drastically increase memory. Pets that need to be walked everyday encourage seniors to get their recommended exercises and ultimately help shape cognitive function.
- A Happy Companion: Many Alzheimer’s patients suffer from depression due to their lack of independence and an increased level of stress. Pets are known to help alleviate our stress levels by releasing the stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin. Not only do they alleviate our stress levels, but they are also great listeners and are sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face.
Best Pets for Your Loved One
The world of pets is a large one, and people keep everything from mice to llamas. But what’s a good pet for an older person with Alzheimer’s disease? It is important that the pet needs affection and to be taken care of. Therefore, steer away from rodents, fish and reptiles. Dogs and cats are particularly great because they’re always looking for attention and seem to get what we’re going through. They are also usually welcome in most homes, apartment complex, nursing homes, and retirement communities. Be sure to pick a dog or cat that is small enough for your loved one to handle and not too energetic to wear them down.
If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, they will want and need a companion that is always there for them. Finding them the perfect pet will help them cope and manage their health despite the disease.