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The ‘Paw’sitive Effects of Pet Ownership

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you know it can feel like a life changing experience.  And research supports that pet ownership really can change your life for the better, in more ways than one! A recent study followed individuals with Alzheimer’s disease who owned pets, and the findings were pretty significant. Let’s dive into some of the ‘paw’sitive effects of pet ownership for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Recent Research on Pet Ownership 

It’s been well-established that human-animal interactions can have a variety of positive psychosocial and psychophysiological effects on people.This study aimed to understand what those benefits might be specifically for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Researchers tracked information for 5 years from 223 people with mild or very mild Alzheimer’s disease.  40 of these people had pets at the time the study started. 

The results: Those with pets had better outcomes. At the end of the study, those with pets had seen positive effects on ADL (activities of daily living) function, less neuropsychiatric symptoms, and less disease progression.  Essentially, they were functioning better day-to-day, and their cognitive decline was slower compared to people without pets.  

Pets and Alzheimer’s Disease 

So what exactly is the significance of this?  Certainly more research will need to be done to confirm these results, and establish whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between pet ownership and slower Alzheimer’s disease progression.  

But the findings shine a light on the potential benefits of pet ownership for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Owning a pet doesn’t just bring joy to your life: It may even help preserve your brain functioning and prevent the progression of dementia symptoms. 

Animals in Dolan Memory Care Homes 

Dolan Memory Care has long supported having animals in our memory care homes. All our homes receive frequent visits from therapy dogs and emotional support dogs. Some of our staff bring their pets to work from time to time to allow residents to interact with them.  And we even allow residents to bring their own pets with them when they move in.  

We have been following the research on animals and Alzheimer’s disease for a long time. In maintaining some of the best memory care homes in St. Louis, we are always sure to base our care on research and stay up-to-date on the latest updates. For as long as animals seem to have positive effects on our residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, we will continue to welcome them into our homes with open arms. 

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34719492/

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