“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
- George Eliot
Animals can enrich our lives in so many ways. At Aurrum, pet therapy is incorporated into our aged care lifestyle activities for everyone to enjoy. Pet therapy can also benefit those living with dementia in a number of ways.
What does pet therapy involve?
With pet therapy, an animal handler brings in a gentle and well-behaved animal – most often a dog – into the care home where residents can have guided interactions with the animal. This might include brushing, walking or petting the pet. Spending time with animals has been found to boost people’s oxytocin levels and reduce stress and anxiety, so pet therapy is a natural mood booster. It’s always a great day and a lot of fun when our furry friends come visiting.
How can pet therapy benefit a person living with dementia?
While pet therapy can benefit anyone who’s fond of animals, research is consistently showing that it can have particular benefits for people who are living with dementia:
- Pet therapy has been found to boost social interaction and decrease agitation levels in people living with dementia.
- Australian research found that aged care residents with dementia showed lower depression and higher quality of life indicators when they had regular access to dog-assisted therapy, compared to human-only therapy.
- Personalised animal assisted therapy has been recognised as a beneficial and effective complementary treatment for people with dementia in the area of behavioural and psychological symptoms.
So some time spent with a gentle dog can make someone happier, more relaxed, and better able to connect with other people. Put simply – no matter who you are, if you love animals you can likely benefit from spending time with them!
Where pet therapy isn’t possible, PARO therapy is
People with dementia, particularly in later stages, may at times behave in ways that might be physically or verbally aggressive. In situations where interactions with a live animal might not be suited, the resident can spend time with our PARO the social robotic seal. PARO is around the size and weight of a cat, very soft and fluffy, and responds to touch, sound, heat, light and movement. It can even recognise its own name when called. It’s said that interacting with PARO can help to reduce anxiety and agitation, and we see firsthand how residents love sitting with PARO in their lap as they talk and interact with the little seal pup.
You can explore more information on our diverse aged care lifestyle programs to see the wide range of aged care activities and ideas available to Aurrum care home residents. We’re always adding interesting, beneficial and tailored activities to support physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.