In this episode of the Dementia Care Secrets podcast, host Diane Carbo discusses the benefits of emotional support for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. She emphasizes that emotional support, including various types of animals such as dogs, birds, and fish, can provide unconditional love, reduce stress responses, lower blood pressure, and improve the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer's.
Diane explains that emotional support animals form an emotional bond with patients, providing comfort during challenging moments and reducing behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, irritability, depression, and loneliness. She highlights the importance of considering factors like allergies, energy levels, and fall risks when introducing a pet into a home environment.
Diane shares a story about a client named Joe, who experienced the initial symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and found solace in owning a dog, which helped maintain his healthy lifestyle and slow the progression of the disease. She emphasizes that emotional support animals can lift mood, alleviate loneliness, and facilitate meaningful connections for Alzheimer's patients, even as cognitive decline occurs. Diane concludes by discussing the positive impact of emotional support on physical and mental health, including reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, and improving overall well-being.
She highlights that emotional support animals increase social interactions, provide comfort in unfamiliar environments, and serve as conversation starters for those with Alzheimer's. Diane encourages caregivers to consider the benefits of emotional support for their loved ones and emphasizes the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, staying socially active, and seeking companionship to slow memory loss and manage the challenges of Alzheimer's and related dementias.