How Pets Help Adults With Dementia in Assisted Living Communities

Pets are considered to be one of the best ways to relieve stress for anyone, but they are particularly effective for seniors struggling with the challenges of getting older. Many seniors develop dementia in old age, which can be very stressful and confusing. Having pets in an assisted living facility can make it easier to cope with memory issues. Here’s why many assisted living facilities are now allowing pets for their residents.


Many people consider their pets to be their best friends and most supportive companions. Pets provide support for their owners in a way that other humans can’t. They offer a sweet, unconditional love that is a great way to cheer anyone up at the end of a long day. Many seniors with dementia struggle in social situations because of the mental complications of the disease. This can leave them feeling lonely and even lead to depression if it isn’t managed. Luckily, pets make excellent companions for seniors with dementia, because they provide a simple form of social support that doesn’t require conversation.

Improved Moods

In addition to providing companionship, pets are also excellent for cheering people up. Their sweet faces and hilarious antics throughout the day are a good way to make people smile even in the most difficult of situations. Having a pet around on a regular basis can help dementia patients stay in a good mood, even when they are facing difficult challenges. These improved moods not only make for more enjoyable days, but they can even have a positive effect on their physical health. When you are in a good mood, you are less likely to experience fatigue and chronic pain, and your immune system will be able to heal from injuries and illnesses more effectively.

Routine and Responsibility

Pets require daily care, which makes them excellent for retirees and can be very helpful for patients with mild dementia. After transitioning into retirement, many seniors struggle to find a comfortable routine, which can lead to boredom and sadness. Having a sense of responsibility toward a pet can also be very helpful for seniors. Since it is very important that the pet still has reliable care, there are a few ways memory care facilities address pet ownership. Some facilities allow residents to keep their pets, but provide services to ensure they are properly cared for. Others have community pets, which the residents work together to care for. Both situations are very effective for seniors with dementia who enjoy pets. Pets also do very well with senior owners, because seniors have more time to devote to their animals, and tend to be very dedicated to them as well. Seniors in assisted living facilities will receive supervision when it comes to taking care of pets, so the animals will be properly cared for.

Exercise and Activity

Many seniors struggle with complications from being sedentary throughout the day, so it is important they take time regularly to exercise and move. This prevents muscular imbalances and skeletal misalignments, and can also improve seniors’ moods. Pets are an excellent motivator for seniors to exercise. Dogs need to be walked every day, and all animals need a certain level of play and stimulation throughout the day. In an assisted living facility, residents will be supervised as they interact with their animals, so they will get gentle exercise without hurting themselves.

When choosing a pet for a senior citizen with dementia, it is very important to choose an animal with a relaxed, loving temperament. The pet should also be healthy, without behavioral problems or an excess amount of energy that could overwhelm dementia sufferers. Spending regular time with animals is so beneficial for seniors, which is why an increasing number of seniors are looking for pet friendly assisted living. This unique amenity can have a huge positive effect on your senior’s mental and physical health.