Pets have long been recognised for their ability to bring comfort, joy, and companionship to their owners. For individuals living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, pets can play a particularly important role in enhancing their quality of life. In specialised dementia and Alzheimer’s care facilities, pets are increasingly incorporated into the care programs to provide residents with a sense of purpose and socialisation.

Research has shown that pets can provide numerous benefits for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. One of the most significant benefits is the reduction of stress and anxiety. Individuals with Alzheimer’s can experience high levels of stress and anxiety, which can be alleviated by spending time with a pet. A pet’s presence can also help lower blood pressure and heart rate, leading to a sense of calm and relaxation. Whether it’s a dog or cat, some people living with dementia or Alzheimers feel that animals are a source of comfort, especially for those who may be feeling isolated or lonely.

Pets also provide a sense of purpose and responsibility for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Caring for a pet can give individuals a sense of accomplishment and improve their self-esteem. Feeding, grooming, and playing with a pet can provide a routine and structure to an individual’s day, which can be particularly important for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s who may struggle with memory loss and confusion. In addition to these benefits, pets can also help to improve socialisation and communication skills for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Pets can act as a conversation starter and help unite individuals for shared activities and experiences.

Role of pets in an Alzheimer’s care facility

At Livewell, we understand the important role that pets can play in enhancing the lives of individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why we are proud to be a pet-friendly care facility that allows our residents to bring their own pets with them when they move in. We recognise that pets can provide comfort, companionship, and a sense of purpose for our residents, and we believe that the presence of pets can contribute to a positive and welcoming environment. Additionally, we understand that the loss of a pet can be a difficult and emotional experience, which is why we are committed to helping our residents source a new pet if their existing pet passes away.

We have residents with pet dogs, cats, and birds at the Livewell Estates, and some keep fish, and there are even chickens and ducks at our facility in Somerset West. Quite often our residents who are showing signs of withdrawing from other people, find pets less threatening and respond most positively and quite impulsively to a dog, cat, bird or other pet. This is an absolute joy to see. We have noted that many of our resident dogs, for example, bring people together and encourage them to engage in activities, such as a morning walk, or stimulate a discussion about the breed with others.

At Livewell, we believe that pets are an important part of our residents’ lives, and we are committed to ensuring that they can continue to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership while in our care.