April 11 is National Pet Day! This is a day to recognize the role pets play in all of our lives. Furry, feathered, and finned friends offer companionship, emotional support, and health benefits ranging from lower rates of depression to reduced anxiety.

Pet therapy has become a routine part of hospice programs, assisted living communities, and hospitals. The benefits of pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, are especially profound for adults who have Alzheimer’s.

Pet Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease

For people living with Alzheimer’s, spending time with animals has been shown to soothe anxiety, as well as decrease pacing and confusion. Some memory care experts say pet therapy can be one of the best ways to manage sundowner’s syndrome.

Pets are able to communicate with people who have Alzheimer’s disease on a nonverbal level. Gently stroking a pet’s fur can have a calming effect, and building a relationship with a pet helps people with memory loss feel connected when verbal skills are lost.

Bird aviaries are a common sight in memory care programs. People with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are often captivated by birds for long periods of time. The peacefulness of watching birds build their nests, fly from branch to branch, and otherwise go about their day helps ease anxiety and restlessness.

Even a friend with fins can offer health benefits for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a common challenge caregivers face as their loved one’s disease progresses is helping them to sit still and eat. This contributes to unhealthy weight loss.

In a Purdue University study, a brightly colored aquarium was placed in the dining room with people who had Alzheimer’s. They found that the fish kept the participants’ attention, which helped them relax, stay seated, and eat more of their food.

Life Enrichment in Sunrise Memory Care Programs

You will find pets being pampered and loved by residents at all of our Sunrise Senior Living communities. Some are owned by residents and staff members, while others reside at the community for everyone’s enjoyment. This helps create a positive environment for residents, staff, and visitors alike. Call the Sunrise community nearest you to learn more about all the comforts of home we can provide.


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