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Animals Can Help Ease the Effects of Dementia

aviary copyWhen residents of the Lehigh Valley look for a memory care community, there are several things they consider: safety, medical care, environment, location, cost, dining experience, and so on. These are all vital to the quality of life of a dementia patient. But there can be another aspect of care brought on by unique residents of a care community: animals!

Most people grow up in homes with pets or acquire pets when they get older. Dogs, cats, birds, and the like become members of the family. With precautions, Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients can have pets to bring them comfort and companionship. Pet-assisted therapy has become an accepted and beneficial treatment for people with dementia. By their very nature, animals do not judge, and they are not critical. And for someone with dementia, those qualities make them a good companion. Their very presence can help reduce the effects of dementia: anxiety, agitation, irritability, depression, and loneliness. By their friendliness and non-threatening way, animals can help a dementia patient be more interactive, when sometimes they are not able to do so in social settings with other adults.


Even in situations where individuals cannot have pets for whatever reason, occasional “visits” from animals or to animals can make a difference. Pet therapists may bring in specially-trained animals to circulate among care community patients to brighten their day (both that of the patient and the animal!). South Mountain Memory Care is designed for comfort — comfort in the layout, accommodations, and home-like feel of the neighborhood kitchen and family room, as well as comfort in the delivery of care. There are 24 suites divided into two wings, or neighborhoods, to enhance individual care and an at-home feeling. There is a large activity room that features an aquarium, and each wing has an aviary. These special features provide an opportunity for residents to enjoy the “company” of playful, colorful animals, perhaps recalling pleasant memories of their own pets.

These encounters make good conversation starters, and provide a sense of fun, as well as a distraction, for residents. The mere act of watching nature at play has been shown to calm rough behaviors, as well as keep them occupied in a tranquil way. These animals are non-threatening and non-judgmental, and require no care or anxiety on the part of the resident. 

South Mountain Memory Care focuses on high-quality, personalized care. The brand new building is a stand-alone memory care community, meaning that the entire building, staff, and programs are designed to serve residents with cognitive issues. To ensure person-centered care and attention, we have accommodations for up to 28 residents. The building is divided into two neighborhoods (wings), each offering 10 private suites and 2 semi-private suites. South Mountain Memory Care is located in the Allentown suburb of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and it is easily accessible from the Lehigh Valley, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. For more information, go to

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