How Can Pets Help with Alzheimer’s Therapy?

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Many families providing Alzheimer’s care for their elderly loved ones are discovering pet therapy can be a useful tool in alleviating Alzheimer’s symptoms and enhancing a senior’s quality of life. Here are a few of the ways having a pet can help your loved one handle the disease as well as some factors to consider before getting him or her a pet. 


Seniors with Alzheimer’s often find it difficult to engage in conversation as the condition progresses, which can lead to increased isolation, loneliness, and depression. However, regular social stimulation is crucial for keeping the mind sharp. The language of a wagging tail or a purr can bridge this communication gap and serve as an icebreaker and point of connection between your loved one and another animal lover. 

Interacting with pets isn’t the only way older adults can receive mental and social stimulation. Families who need help caring for senior loved ones can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Rhode Island elderly home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Physical Activity

In a study conducted at the University of British Columbia, researchers determined aerobic exercise creates physical and chemical changes in the brain that enhance memory and thought processes. The cognitive and physical effects of Alzheimer’s can make it challenging to get enough exercise to maintain overall health, but simply taking a short walk with a dog or brushing a cat can enhance muscle coordination and provide a meditative form of activity.

There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading home care service provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.

Calming Effects

Being around a pet has the physiological effects of slowing the heart rate, reducing blood pressure, and producing feelings of overall wellbeing. Seniors with Alzheimer’s who have companion animals also exhibit fewer daytime behavioral problems. These seniors also tend to be more compliant regarding eating and other desired behaviors. 

Some Factors to Consider

Pet therapy can include cats, dogs, birds, or even a simple aquarium full of fish. When choosing a companion animal for your loved one, it’s important to consider the animal’s temperament, your loved one’s personality and living situation, and the maintenance and upkeep requirements of the animal. Pets should be up to date on their vaccinations and properly trained to ensure your loved one’s safety. 

Both rescue pets and trained therapy animals can provide therapeutic benefits for your loved one. Trained therapy animals tend to be less skittish and more tolerant and calm around others. Some can even be trained to alert you if your loved one starts to wander or engage in other dangerous behavior. 

For reliable Alzheimer’s care, Rhode Island families can turn to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of professional memory care designed to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life. In addition to Alzheimer’s care, we also provide comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care. From revolutionary care programs to compassionate and dedicated caregivers, we can meet all of your Alzheimer’s care needs. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (401) 284-0979.


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