Pet therapy is utilized in many nursing care centers as a way to help residents with loneliness, anxiety and depression. Research shows residents who have pets to love and take care of have lower levels of stress and can help ease feelings of sadness.
At the Memory Care Residence at Normandie Ridge Senior Living Community, a new form of pet therapy is being utilized. Several pet robots are now being used to help residents with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. While faux pets are not capable of showing affection, they do satisfy the residents need to give love.
The robots move and breathe like regular pets, but offer a safer environment for patients in Memory Care. The calming action of petting a cat or feeling an animal breathe can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone.
Faux pets are also utilized for reminiscent type therapy, which allows residents to relive and remember years of the past. Faux pets provide the resident with an outlet for stress and fulfill their need to give love, all while maintaining a nurturing environment. Studies have shown that elders who suffer from dementia have a higher risk of developing depression which can affect their quality of life. Pet robots can make a difference in the lives of those residents.
Studies show a robotic pet can give a resident a sense of purpose. Jodi Silvey, Nurse Manager in Memory Care at Normandie Ridge said, “Many dementia patients interact with the robots as if they were real pets. The biggest appeal is to those who once had pets of their own.” Residents will often name the faux pets after one of the pets in their life.
The robotic pets have sensors that respond to motion and touch. The pet starts breathing when being petted and then rests after a period of inactivity. Robotic pets are better in nursing homes then real pets because faux pets will sit on a resident’s lap for as long as they want. There is also no litter box needed and faux puppies don’t chew on things.
Normandie Ridge currently has three faux cats and three dogs. The robots were donated to the Memory Care Residence and Silvey says they are hopeful they can purchase more, or have more donated. Silvey says they have made a big difference in patient care.