Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schultz
The famous cartoonist and creator of the beloved Snoopy was certainly onto something when he spoke those famous words.
One has to wonder though if the Peanuts writer understood there were actually facts to support his theory – that while happiness may not be measurable, the benefits dogs can provide some people are easy to see.
“Even people with Alzheimer’s recognize a dog and they see that the dog is someone new in their environment. I think they see it as someone with whom they can interact without any worry,” says Mara M. Baun, a coordinator of the PhD in nursing program at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at the Houston School of Nursing in Houston. (Everyday Health)
At Friends Place in Richardson, we recognize the advantages the presence of therapy dogs can provide our members – that’s why every Thursday we’re happy to host our four-legged friends from The Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs in Richardson.
A 2010 study published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research found that the mere presence of a dog can help reduce agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, specifically helping in the following areas:
- Decreasing stress and depression
- Fostering calmness and relaxation
- Improving moods
- Increasing physical and social activity
- Boosting mental stimulation
In some instances, therapy dogs have proven to be especially advantageous to those recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Take for instance, the case of Rick Phelps, a Lafayette, La. man recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
After his diagnosis, Phelps felt very uneasy in public – making tasks like going to Wal-Mart a source of much concern.
“I had stress and anxiety and was afraid of everything. On a scale of one to 10, I was probably a 12,” explained Phelps.
“Now, I would say I’m a two or maybe a three because of this dog. It’s a miracle and I can’t believe it yet. We’re bonding more everyday and he’s trained to do that. He knows when I’m stressed out.”
At Friends Place Richardson, we’re dedicated to providing our members with programs that enable them to maintain a life of dignity, meaning and purpose. Our work with Heart of Texas every Thursday helps enrich the lives of our guests. We invite you to visit our Facebook page here to see photos from our therapy dog activities and other great Friends Place events.