Man’s best friend. We have all heard of pets, and dogs especially, referred to in this manner. Pets always miss us when we are gone, are glad to see us when we return, and become part of the family. At Haven Behavioral Hospital of Dayton, pets are working their way into the hearts, and treatments, of patients.
Psychology Today states that in the United States alone, an estimated 15% of people older than 65 will suffer from some form of dementia, and an additional 10% will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. This amounts to around 5.5 million people.
Pet Therapy helps patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease by stimulating the senses by touching the fur and having interaction with the animal. In some cases, it is reminiscent of a happy time in the patient’s past. Contact with a pet causes a beneficial calming effect on the patients.
Patients that are verbally aggressive sometimes become concerned when the pets are upset and visibly shaking due to their aggressive behavior. Concern for the pet may help decrease the patient’s aggressive behavior.
Patients referred to Haven with dementia with behavioral disturbance might become anxious and then escalate to physical aggression. Petting an animal calms the patient down and allows them to get their aggression under control.
Pets can be a comfort to older adults by being a companion to ease loneliness or the loss of a loved one, a friend to talk to, or something to look forward to with their visits. Pets bring joy to the lives of their families and, with innovative therapy options like Pet Therapy, they are bringing comfort and calm to those in need.