Animal-assisted therapy, or zootherapy, may be used as a therapeutic tool for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It can provide a sense of psychological and physiological wellbeing in elderly patients.
Animals are also said to help people with Alzheimer's disease to remember past experiences, which are frequently linked to animals. This is referred to as the “recollection effect”.
The presence of an animal is also desirable for patients, whose cognitive functions are affected, since it stimulates the patient's emotions, an area that brings him more comfort and less stress.
The animal and its benefits:
- It promotes physical activity
- It offers unconditional love
- It provides a comforting presence
- It evokes a sense of joy and interest in life
- It promotes social interaction
Advantages for people with Alzheimer's disease:
- The animal provides stimulation; this captures the person's attention and maintains their contact with reality;
- The sole presence of the animal places the patient in a calming and soothing state of mind, which is very important for people with a tendency to react aggressively;
- The animal allows the patient to be stimulated emotionally, rather than intellectually.
Animal-assisted therapy is not a cure for the illness, but its use in residences, for example, certainly offers positive effects that compliment other therapies and treatments.