Health > How Pets can Help Seniors Fight Dementia
16th Jul 2022
Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy For Dementia

How Pets can Help Seniors Fight Dementia

Dementia is a medical term that describes symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social skills adversely meddling with a person’s regular daily routine. Besides the medication that helps tackle this condition, AAT or Animal-Assisted Therapy goes a long way in helping those suffering from this medical condition. Read along to learn more about it, including signs, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of dementia through animal-aided therapy.


Dementia Symptoms

Though reasons for dementia may vary, there are some common signs of dementia.They are:



  • Loss in memory
  • Difficulty in finding the right words to communicate
  • Loss in visual and spatial abilities
  • Reduction in problem-solving skills and reasoning
  • Loss in handling complex tasks
  • Fall in organisational and planning skills
  • Feeling disoriented and confused


  • Change in personality
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling depressed
  • Experiencing hallucination
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Getting agitated
  • Behaving inappropriately


Causes of Dementia

Doctors have various tests and parameters that help them conclude if a person has dementia. It is caused by loss of or damage to nerve cells and their neural connections in the brain. Based on the area where the damage has happened, those suffering from this condition behave differently. The symptoms they manifest are also different. Some diseases present like dementia but are caused due to a reaction to medications or vitamin deficiencies. These might improve with the treatment.


Animal/Pet Therapy for Treatment of Dementia

Besides dementia medications, animal-assisted treatment has been medically effective in helping those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, delirium and dementia, and so on.

There has been an increase in nursing facilities’ atmospheres to create an ambience of a home. The inmates often feel lonely, helpless, and bored. Bringing in children, family, plants, and pets, like dogs, cats, birds, and others, works wonders in bringing positivity to the atmosphere and the patients. The benefits of being surrounded by animals go a long way, especially for people with dementia.


Pet Therapy Benefits

  • Improved mood

It leads to alleviation of mood and more interaction socially, thereby fighting depression. Pet-related activities help reduce the anxiety and sadness that dementia patients suffer from. An increase in physical activity, no matter how vigorous or trivial is always significant, be it taking the pet on a walk, petting it, or giving it water or food.


  • Bringing Calmness

According to a reliable study, animal-assisted therapy calmed the patients and lowered their blood pressure levels significantly.


  • Decreased behavioural problems

A dog’s presence in the ward reduced aggression and agitation among the patients.


  • Better Food Intake

According to yet another reliable study, the presence of an aquarium in a ward improved eating habits among the patients there. So much so that they required fewer dietary supplements.



The benefits of AAT are plentiful, including an increase in physical activity, social interaction, and overall happiness. The animal can be living in the facility or can be brought home if you are taking care of a dementia patient at home. Whatever the scenario is, it is well-known that the touch from pet contact improves the quality of life, with or without dementia.



What are suitable activities for dementia patients?

Some of the more beneficial activities for people with dementia are dancing, swimming, group walking, yoga, tai chi, drawing, painting, reading, performing on stage, etc.


Do dementia patients like being alone?

Dementia patients absolutely hate being alone. They become anxious and feel nervous when their caregivers are not around.


How to take care of a parent with dementia at home?

Caring for a person suffering from dementia is definitely better at home. The decline in the patient’s condition is slower. The familiar home environment and the family around them make a whale of a difference. But this is not always possible. In such a case, one must visit the family member as often as possible and involve them in the usual activities they would be doing when at home. Short walks and stretching are beneficial and make sure to offer them assistance only when genuinely required.


Do dementia patients do better at home?

Though permanent home care is not always possible, when you keep a loved one who is experiencing dementia at home, then they may live longer and happier lives, per recent findings.


Are jigsaw puzzles good for dementia?

Jigsaw and crosswords are beneficial as they provide fewer chances of developing dementia or memory loss. These activities stimulate the brain. Older adults who did puzzles had brain scans comparable to the 25-year-olds.


How do you keep dementia patients busy?

Dementia patients can be kept busy with simple chair exercises, water exercises, walks, memory games, music and dance, cleaning up around the house, deciding on the menu, and so on.