The benefits of sensory pets for people with dementia

We are big advocates of the elderly being able to remain in their own homes and being able to keep their beloved pets if they can, however we understand this isn’t always possible. A person with dementia might not have the ability to look after a real pet as they may not be able to remember to take it on regular walks or feed it and they may not be as mobile as they once were, so a sensory pet could make a good alternative for them.

Sensory pets can look very realistic and provide great sensory stimulation to a person with dementia. If your budget doesn’t stretch to purchasing a sensory pet specifically made for a person with dementia, a soft toy animal or bear can work just as well.

They can help spark memories in people with dementia who used to own pets when they were younger. The sensory pet or toy doesn’t have to look like their old beloved pet as it’s the simple act of holding, stroking and cuddling that can really help and give comfort.

They are also great for easing agitation and anxiety in people who have dementia. Real sensory pets can often mimic the sounds of real animals, for example a cat purring, which can have a soothing effect. Alternatively a toy/bear that plays a song can work just as well.

A sensory pet or toy can also fulfil the need to nurture. Holding, stroking and caring for a sensory pet or toy can feel like a very normal activity in people with dementia and the need to nurture might be something that has been missing from their life for a while since they cared for their children or grandchildren.

Research has shown that sensory animals and even soft toy animals or bears can bring happiness and comfort to a person with dementia as well as boost their mood, so they are well worth trying if you have a loved-one with dementia.