If nursing homes are any indication, the answer is yes. Many of these facilities have brought pets into their programs. Dogs that have been trained as therapy dogs can be very effective. And they’re usually taught to sit quietly next to someone, so the senior can pet them easily.
Every Alzheimer’s patient, however, is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Some people with Alzheimer’s, for example, can be scared by pets… even small ones. But if your loved one had pets in his life, it might be worth a try.
Some caregivers buy pets for the sole purpose of giving their loved ones an outlet they can enjoy. They can feed and water the pet, brush or bathe it, and, if able, take the pet for walks. This kind of activity is actually doubly-therapeutic… because it gives your loved one a sense of responsibility, and of feeling needed. And all of us want to feel needed.
If you already have a pet, and bring your loved one to live with you, your pet will quickly realize things are different. And they often become very protective of the Alzheimer’s patient, and stay close to him.
It doesn’t have to be a dog, however.
Fish can be almost mesmerizing, and really fun for your loved one to watch. Cats can be fun to play with or to cuddle with. Even indoor birds might give your loved one something enjoyable on which to focus. People with Alzheimer’s often enjoy sitting outside and watching the birds. And asking them to fill the bird-feeders is also an activity they’ll find satisfying.
If you’re a caregiver to someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, you have questions like this every day. And we can help answer them.
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we’ve been answering questions like this for 33 years. We’ve walked thousands of South Florida families through the Dementia Journey. And we’ve helped them prepare for it, as well… with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid and the VA.
We’ll walk you through the Dementia Journey. We’re just a phone call away.
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