Memory Loss can affect people in different ways, which is why there are a variety of traditional and contemporary therapies available to help individuals dealing with declined cognitive function.

Over the years, pet therapy has become a common tool in helping people with socialization, mood control, and motivation in physical activity. While dogs are the most commonly used animal in pet therapy, horses, cats, rabbits, birds, and other animals can be part of the treatment course.

Pet therapy is conducted with a trained animal in an objective intervention role determined by a professional therapist. Depending on the type of animal used and the needs, strengths, and abilities of the person living with Memory Loss, individuals can spend time petting, stroking, brushing, playing, and/or walking the animal.

Benefits of Pet Therapy for People Living with Memory Loss

For people living with Memory Loss, pet therapy can have a profound impact on their overall quality of life. Clinically referred to as animal-assisted therapy, this type of hands-on interaction with animals has been shown to lower stress, boost moods, and bring people living with Memory Loss more joy and comfort.

Pet therapy has also been shown to reduce behavioural problems, which can make day-to-day life easier for both individuals living with Memory Loss and their caregivers. Additionally, pet therapy can facilitate increased social interaction and engagement, which can help combat the loneliness and isolation that often comes with Memory Loss. Socialization is a huge issue for people living with Dementia and other forms of Memory Loss, to the point where the person may become withdrawn and anxious when among a crowd of people.

Being social also translates to increased physical activity. Interacting with animals can increase physical activity and instill a sense of purpose and responsibility in individuals who may be struggling with their independence. In addition, pet therapy has been linked to improved cognitive function, potentially helping individuals with Memory Loss retain important information for longer periods of time.

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The Science Behind Pet Therapy

Incorporating pet therapy into Memory Loss environments is not a new concept but it is a growing trend among professionals who are responsible for the health and well-being of people living with Memory Loss. It is no secret that pets have a way of bringing joy and comfort to their owners, but their therapeutic benefits go beyond just companionship. The “person-centred” approach with pet therapy is considered a more holistic treatment compared to the traditional pharmaceutical approach. In fact, studies have shown the act of petting an animal trigger the release of mood boosters known as endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin.

In one particular study published by the National Library of Medicine for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it was discovered that initial introductions to animals had a positive emotional result on participants with Memory Loss. A report on the effectiveness of dog therapy for patients with Dementia, published by the same journal, also found pet therapy to be an essential complementary treatment for Dementia symptoms.

The goal of Memory Care is to increase, where possible, the quality of life for the person living with Memory Loss. As seen with the study Animal-Assisted Intervention and Dementia: A Systematic Review, participants who received animal-assisted therapy did have a significant improvement in their quality of life compared to those who did not have pet therapy.

Researchers have also found that pet therapy helps to create a more relaxed environment, which can lead to more meaningful engagement between family members and their loved ones.

Pet Therapy at Memory & Company

As the world’s first Respite Hotel, Memory & Company has adopted various treatment programs including pet therapy. Specializing in short-term and long-term Dementia care, the participation in pet and other therapy programs has become a fundamental focus in our Premium Day Program.

Pet therapy sessions are used in conjunction with visiting agencies and organizations, such as Hands On Exotics, and Saint John Ambulance.

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How to Incorporate Pet Therapy Into Your Loved One’s Life

Before you provide your loved one living with Memory Loss with pet therapy, it is best to discuss their personal needs and preferences with their specialist or therapist.

There are four common types of pet therapy, each with its own goals and characteristics.

  • Ownership therapyinvolves the participant providing independent care of a pet
  • Animal-assistedtherapy is a formal interaction to help those with non-verbal communication and confidence.
  • Animal-assisted activities encourage socialization and physical activity with care and comfort.
  • Visitation therapyinvolves animal handlers visiting on a regular basis to boost the mood of the person living with Memory Loss.

A pet therapy session is a scheduled series of events beginning with an initial visit to “match” an animal with the right person. Professional care partners and medical Team Members collaborate on the goal of each session.

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Explore Pet Therapy Options for Your Loved One at Memory & Company

For compassionate and comprehensive Dementia care in Markham and Oakville, schedule a visit with Memory & Company. All Team Members have extensive experience, education, and qualifications in the care of those living with a form of Memory Loss.

Contact us at (905) 888-8808, email, or complete our online form for more information on long-term or short-term dementia care near you.