Pet Interaction Can Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Agitation in Those with Dementia

3/12/2015
Location : Home Office 
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With memory impairments becoming a growing concern, care providers have begun working in tandem with researchers to ensure that innovative approaches to care are developed in parallel to clinical solutions that someday may lead to disease prevention. Silverado is one such provider, incorporating new and inventive programs to help residents achieve a better quality of life while contributing to further advances in memory care.

One way Silverado accomplishes this is through an industry-leading pet program. Countless studies and articles have demonstrated the positive effect a pet can have on one’s health — and Silverado’s 24-hour program further supports those studies. Visitors to Silverado communities often see what many researchers are only recently proving the science behind.

In an article titled, Animals Are Good for Your Health, Mara M. Baun, D.N.Sc., F.A.A.N and Nancy J. Drapper, M.P.A., (2009) share studies that confirmed, “just 10 minutes of physical interaction with a beloved pet can lower blood pressure and increase finger temperature — both clear signs of relaxation.” The article also states, “pets can do what medicine cannot.” Dr. Baun, the Lee & Joseph D. Jamail distinguished professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing, goes on to share another study in which “two groups were evaluated for their reactions to psychological stress tests and monitored for several days. The group with dogs in the home reduced resting blood pressure (to within normal range) and reactivity to stress, as well as ambulatory blood pressure, even while at work.” What’s more, the articles specifically sites research in regard to those with Alzheimer’s, which revealed “that residents were less agitated and expressed more socially interactive behaviors when therapy dogs were present.”

The overall success of Silverado’s pet program is also supported by years of observations across Silverado communities. In fact, the first story dates back to 1997 when Silverado’s very first resident, Ben Chase, moved into the Escondido community. He arrived with challenging behaviors but once he was introduced to Asher, a black Labrador retriever, he made a connection and began to experience peace, joy and a sense of purpose once again. Looking back at the past 17 years, that result has been replicated hundreds of times.

Study after study has demonstrated the positive effects of pets in the lives of people with and without dementia — particularly the elderly. It’s because of this, that pets are a part of the core values at Silverado and are a vital ingredient to our residents’ quality of life.

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