Here at the Huntington and Langham Estate we are always on the lookout for ways to bring joy, comfort, and moments of connection to those we support and one extraordinary avenue that has proven to be a beacon of light is animal therapy, often known as pet therapy.
We find it is a profound way to bring smiles and meaningful moments of peace to individuals living with dementia, all of contributes to our unique approach to providing specialist dementia care..
The magic of animal therapy lies in the beautiful connections it fosters and witnessing the transformative power animals can have in the lives of those struggling with dementia. The gentle presence of animals wandering freely around the lounges of Langham Court has provided comfort, evoked memories, and stimulated emotional responses, that might otherwise not be experienced by some.
Dogs are often the stars in the world of animal therapy due to their innate ability to offer companionship and love unconditionally. Their playful energy and affection can brighten the darkest of days. Cats, with their soothing purrs and calming presence, also weave their magic in the lives of those battling dementia and are regular visitors to the Estate.
Welcome Mr Kipling
But let’s talk about a less conventional yet equally impactful therapy animal – the donkey. Yes, you read that right! Donkeys, with their serene demeanour and endearing nature, are gradually making their mark in the realm of animal-assisted therapy. Their calm and friendly disposition can work wonders in soothing individuals with dementia.
So imagine the joy that the arrival of Mr Kipling to the Estate had!
As he wandered along the corridor into the lounge, those in the room beamed with smiles of surprise at their new visitor. With his soft, velvety nose, gently nudging peoples hands, it was evident that the experience triggered memories and emotions for some, evoking smiles and sparking conversations for others.
The tactile experience of petting a donkey’s soft fur can be immensely therapeutic in creating meaningful moments for those living with dementia. By encouraging sensory stimulation and often prompting a flash of reminiscences of childhood days spent in the countryside, Christmas nativity plays or pet ponies, bringing forth tales of farm life or simply the delight of being close to such a gentle creature.
Animal therapy with donkeys, or any other animal for that matter, isn’t just about the immediate joy it brings. Scientifically, it’s been proven that interacting with animals can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It also stimulates social interaction and improves overall emotional well-being, crucial for those navigating the challenges of dementia.
So, if you’re caring for someone living with dementia, don’t underestimate the power of animal therapy. Whether it’s a wagging tail, a gentle purr, or the heartwarming presence of a donkey, these incredible creatures have the ability to touch the hearts and souls of those in need of a little extra love and comfort.