animal mediation workshops to help Alzheimer’s patients

This therapy has existed for several years and it has proven itself with many patients: animal mediation is more and more often offered in nursing homes, in particular in the specialized units which welcome Alzheimer’s patients.

Rabbits and guinea pigs as “mediators”

In the protected living unit of the Korian nursing home “les rives de la Zorn” in Saverne, workshops of this type have been offered for more than two years. Véronique Reisser, an animal mediator from the association “Once upon a time there were men and animals” comes once a week for an hour with rabbits and guinea pigs. Residents pet them, talk to them or feed them.

Appeasement and pleasure for residents

We try to work on concentration, memory, motor skills. There are a lot of things going on around animals. What we see the most is a calming and a pleasure for the residents at each session.“.  “It is proven now: it is a therapy and it often helps the most isolated people to participate“explains Véronique Reisser.

Residents stroke and feed the animals © Radio France
Emilie Pou

Some who no longer spoke, reformulate sentences

These workshops also often have an effect on memory according to Sabine Clesse, the person in charge of animation and social life within the nursing home: “Some people who hardly speak any more, reformulate sentences, that is to say that the emotional and sensory memory is reactivated. Because when you have Alzheimer’s disease, immediate memory has disappeared. On the other hand, old memories like emotional memories remain. Like this gentleman who was a farmer and who finds the gestures. And suddenly we are working on it.

I talk to them and it makes me happy

Alice is one of the most enthusiastic around the table : “I talk to them, and it makes me happy” Explain this 97 year old lady who grew up in a house where there was a mini farm and who, suddenly, tell a little about his memories : ” animals I have known them for a long time when I was 5 or 6 years old“remembers the resident.

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